Trillium Lakeland District School Board (TLDSB) is losing a program providing tutors in the classroom at exam time after a provincial funding cut announced Dec. 16.
In an emailed statement, Minister of Education director of communications Kayla Lafelice said the province will reduce the ‘Education Programs – Other” (EPO) fund by $25 million for the 201819 fiscal year, putting it down to $400 million. The fund is used for specialized programming in school districts across the province.
Trillium Lakelands District School Board director of education Larry Hope said the cuts will impact the district’s Tutors in the Classroom Program, which received about $20,000 from the fund the past several years. The program offers tutors for students in elementary schools across the district late in the year, around EQAO testing time.
“They would be hired to support some tutoring activities and preparation work we would do around EQAO,” Hope said. “That’s about the extent of what we’ve seen (from the cuts).” The program was designed by school boards individually and allowed them to provide one-on-one tutoring for students, with a focus on literacy and numeracy skills, Hope said.
The cut means the district will not offer the program this year he said, adding it was $20,000 spread across the division’s 41 elementary schools.
“It wasn’t a huge amount of time that would be made available to each of the schools individually,” Hope said. “It would be spread across the schools for a very short period of time.”
Lafelice said the government has done a thorough review of the EPO fund.
“Despite only accounting for less than one per cent of school board funding, this funding has a long track record of wasteful spending, overspending and millions of dollars of unfunded commitments,” Lafelice said.
Hope said although the cut only represents a fraction of a percentage of the education budget, it’s not something to ignore.
“We need to pay attention to the fact that it could be the start of changes we see to funding,” Hope said.
In anticipation of further cuts, Hope said the district is carefully reviewing to find cost savings.
“We’ll have to make some decisions once we know more about what the budget is going to look like going forward. Right now, all we have is rumour and hearsay but we are trying to be cautious and careful,” Hope said. “We obviously want to protect as much as we can, particularly as it relates to the classroom.”