Smaller Class Sizes For Over 70 Per Cent Of Primary Students
$200 Million For Elementary Plan For Reduced Class Sizes, Specialist Teachers, New Resources
TORONTO -- Class sizes in the early grades will shrink again this September and more specialist teachers will deliver enriched education in physical education, music and the arts, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today while laying out the plan for elementary schools next year.
A new $126-million investment in smaller class sizes will more than double the total number of children -- up to 381,000 -- who will benefit. That's more than 70 per cent of all children in JK to Grade 3. In addition, the total number of new teachers hired to reduce class sizes will reach more than 2,400.
"We want all of our children to get the individual attention they need to succeed in the important early grades," Premier McGuinty said.
"Students who begin their education in small classes are more likely to stay in school, graduate on time and take on challenging courses later in their education. We've made this a priority because a child's potential is too important to be lost in a crowd."
The $126-million investment announced today is on top of the $90 million earmarked for smaller class sizes one year ago.
"Ontario leads the country in our support for students in their critical early years of learning," said Education Minister Gerard Kennedy.
"Elementary students will benefit from enrichment gained through more music, art and physical education -- further evidence of our commitment to our youngest learners."
The government is on track to reach its target of 20 children in all JK to Grade 3 classes by the 2007-08 school year, Kennedy said.
McGuinty and Kennedy made the announcement while visiting teacher Enza Taddeo's Grade 1 class at Holy Rosary School.
"Having a smaller class makes a real difference to my 18 students," said Taddeo, who would have had 25 children in her classroom this year if a new primary teacher hadn't been hired.
"It gives me the opportunity for more intensive instruction, especially when you're teaching a wide range of students, from new Canadians who are just learning basic English-language skills to children who are quite advanced in their learning."
This is the latest step in the McGuinty government's plan to strengthen Ontario by investing in the health, education and skills of our people.
The government has increased the overall investment in education to more than $17 billion since coming to office.
This year's budget includes $820 million more for education, with approximately $200 million earmarked for specific initiatives in elementary schools, including:
- $39 million this year, increasing to $146 million by 2008-09, to hire 2,000 new specialist teachers in key areas such as literacy and numeracy, music, the arts and physical education, contingent upon successful four-year labour agreements. Approximately 600 teachers will be in place for the next school year
- $18 million for 160 special projects coordinated by local school boards to improve students' reading, writing and math skills
- More than $7 million for literacy and numeracy training and resources
- $5.4 million for turnaround teams of experts to help schools that are struggling the most.
"Education passes on to our children the knowledge that we all value and the values that we all acknowledge," Premier McGuinty said.
"By making public education the best education, we can build the well-educated and highly skilled workforce that will strengthen our economy and develop the strongest society."