By Kirk Winter

The Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) can begin planning its 2021-2022 school year with financials released by the Ministry of Education May 4.

The Ontario government is going to provide $25.6 billion to all boards, which breaks down to $12,686 for every student currently enrolled in publicly-funded schools. The TLDSB is to receive $207.1 million, up slightly from the $203 million it received for 2020-2021.

The provincial government claimed it’s the most money per student ever invested in education. However, the increase from $12,246 in 2019 to $12,525 in 2020 and $12,686 in 2021 does not keep pace with inflation over the same time period.

Asked whether the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) was adequate to provide programming for 2021-2022, TLDSB communication officer, Sinead Fegan, told The Highlander, “our senior administration are currently reviewing the GSNs and allocations for TLDSB. We will not have comments available until information is presented (to trustees) at our May board meeting.” The board’s committee of the whole met May 11 and the regular board meeting is May 25.

However, TLDSB’s two largest unions are concerned.

According to Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, “when you look at the funds required to pay for utility increases and other inflation-impacted costs, Ontario schools will be forced to operate with less funding than they had this year.

 “Saying there is a growth in funding of 2.2 per cent is a gross exaggeration. The Ford government has repeatedly refused to make the real investments required to keep schools open safely and sustainably.”

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation responded to the GSN announcement on social media stating,

“Ford’s funding fails to keep up with inflation. Ford and (Minister Stephen) Lecce want to distract the public with figures and an oversimplification of education funding. This year’s education budget has been touted as an ‘historical investment.’ That’s not really the case. School funding (GSN) is dropping on a per student basis when adjusted for inflation.”

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