P.E.I. school board set to push back against funding cuts

Nigel
Nigel Armstrong
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 Kent Nicholson, trustee with the English Language School Board makes a point during the May meeting, flanked by fellow trustees Cindy McCardle, left, and June Sanderson.

Trustees meeting Tuesday agree to do so in a polite, respectful, methodical way

The English Language School Board is gearing up to push back against government funding cuts to education.

"We have been challenged, no question about that," said Board Superintendent Cynthia Fleet in delivering an update on staffing to the board's May meeting in Stratford Tuesday. "We staff to the best of our ability."

It is to the point of making the appointed trustees rebellious, but on the nicest of terms.

"I think one of the things this board can do is to respectfully, and in a very methodical way, try to promote a different approach to funding education," said trustee Jason Doiron.

"One of the first things that we were told as board members was that we are the conduit between citizens and the system," he said. "I have to say that the citizens I have talked to – friends, colleagues, parents, teachers –many are concerned about funding.

"I am too," said Doiron. "I would like, at some point, to have some discussion about how this board can be a force to really convince those that make funding decisions that education funding needs a change."

The English Language School Board governs 57 schools serving over 19,000 students in kindergarten through grade 12 on P.E.I.

Trustee Kent Nicholson took up the torch.

"There is only so much wiggle room in our allotment of teachers and I think that whatever wiggle room might have been there, we have lost over the last few years," said Nicholson.

"I think this trend can't continue on and result in good outcomes for our students," he said. "I echo the concerns expressed.

"I think we need to push back, in a polite and respectful way, but push back a little bit and say 'education should be one of our highest priorities in this province,' " said Nicholson.

Board chair Fred Osborne declined a suggestion from Nicholson to create a motion to that effect.

"I think we need to garner as much information as we can among all our trustees and formulate what our understanding is and present that to our superintendent," said Osborne.

The board asked for staff to create an outline report of current and past funding models.

"I have been in contact with the department of education and it is receptive to have a conversation around how we can explore what we call the allocation model," said Fleet.

"We have maximized what we have," she said. "The question is, what else do we need where, in order to support the system."

Nicholson pressed onward, saying he wants priority action on filling the vacant school psychologist positions.

Fleet said that one has recently been hired and discussions are underway with others. There is also discussions with the provincial government on student needs within overall psychological services for the province.

NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/NigelPEI

Organizations: English Language School Board, P.E.I. school board, Osborne.The board

Geographic location: Stratford

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  • relocated gal
    May 28, 2014 - 20:05

    Do you all realize that the Premier has moved? West Kent & St Jean will be closed after the next election. The Premier's children (in their new home) will be within walking distance of Spring Park.

  • Observer from the East
    May 28, 2014 - 13:32

    I understand this Province is in debt up to its eyeballs. I know both Liberal and Tory governments have a part in the blame, and I really don't care to take part in that blame game. I understand money has to be cut somewhere. I get that. But education should be the last place on PEI funding should be cut. Common sense needs to start to kick in somewhere

  • Andrea Birt
    May 28, 2014 - 12:54

    The Eastern School Board had five people who did Psyc Ed. evaluations: when it joined and became the English School Board, several jumped ship and now there are only three evaluators for the entire Island! My son has A.D.D. ,which is under the umbrella of learning disabilities ,but because there is such a backload of students waiting for evaluations,there is no way he can be fully tested before he should be out of high school . He is in grade ten now,and just scraping by; if he were a kid that acted out and caused problems in the classroom,he would have had help long ago. He has considerable issues with math but otherwise extremely bright and contributes well in class. His problem is communicating on paper what he can verbalize. He is currently receiving help in the Learning Centre at the Rural,but he is not motivated as he is registered to repeat grade ten math and English,he has pretty much resigned himself to failure. He calls himself stupid. He is Avery bright young man that learns differently and because he doesn't act out he is falling through the cracks. He is an A student that is getting D's some C's and fails. We need more E. A's and Psyc Ed Evaluators in place to help these kids not less and less. I understand that there are systems set in place at the university and college level to assist students with L.D.'s but how do they get to that level when they can't get through high school?

  • Island Boy
    May 28, 2014 - 11:31

    I fully agree with "VOTER". The top heavy, overweight staff of 250 at District is also where "cuts" should be made! There are far too many supervisors and far too few front line teachers. For example, the "super principals", surely if one is to be appointed principal of a school then that person should answer for activity in that school direct to Fleet, not to a "super principal". Then there are the math and literacy monitors etc when really what is needed is a sound and sensible curriculum not a "hodge podge" of what passes for the fad of the hour. What happened to text books and readers?; what happened to the "times tables" to give a basic foundation for "discovery" math? Get rid of the self serving "nobs" in the senior management team appointed at the expense of the teacher/pupil ratio and give front line teachers the tools and time to teach.

  • voter
    May 28, 2014 - 05:59

    ACADEMICS play a smaller role in our schools- everyday !!!! And then the school system is tested and rated on ACADEMIC OUTCOMES !!!! psychologists should be a part of the health budget many things which are STUFFED into the education budget should be charged to the appropriate government budget - social workers, legal workers, special needs ,mental health workers ETC

    • Tara Ileso
      May 28, 2014 - 19:02

      Good point VOTER! Sometimes we only need a new perspective!