Toronto

French immersion students could be hardest hit as TDSB contends with extra $13M hole

The Toronto District School Board has learned it will lose an additional $13 million in provincial funding and says it's now being forced to come up with ways to deal with the loss, with services like school bus service for French Immersion primary students on the chopping block.

TDSB says it's facing bigger shortfall than anticipated due to provincial cuts

At a TDSB finance committee meeting Monday, the board says it originally anticipated a $54-million shortfall but that it learned Friday it's instead facing a $67-million hole. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has learned it will lose an additional $13 million in provincial funding and says it's now being forced to come up with ways to deal with the loss, with services like school bus service for French Immersion primary students on the chopping block.

At a TDSB finance committee meeting Monday, the board says it originally anticipated a $54-million shortfall but that it learned Friday it's instead facing a $67-million hole.

Among the possible cuts: a reduction in principals, early learning coaches and guidance positions. 

Here are some of areas that could be hardest hit:

  • $12.15-million cut to French immersion: Because students can enter the French immersion stream at various points in their education, the board says, class sizes for the program are "not optimal." The board will discuss a staff report on French in June 2019 and will be discussing possible changes to staffing and teacher recruitment, among other measures. 
  • $9.02-million cut to transportation services: Pupils in senior kindergarten to Grade 5 French immersion and extended French attending programs not at their home schools will no longer be provided with school buses. Students in Grade 6 or higher in programs not at their home schools will no longer receive a TTC subsidy. 
  • $5.82-million cut to learning centres, which would involve reducing the number of coaches from kindergarten to Grade 12 from 69 to 40, early reading coaches from 28 to 20 and guidance positions from 84 to 69.
  • $5.38 cut to central administration, which would involve reviewing vendor contracts and the reorganization of various departments, including business services, communications and employee services.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the province's ministry of education says the government is "extremely proud" of the changes being made to education.

Parents demonstrated outside a meeting by the Toronto District School Board as it discussed proposed cuts to deal with the loss of an additional $13 million on Monday. (Taylor Simmons/CBC)
"Our government is protecting what matters most by delivering an education system that puts student achievement at the centre of everything we do," said Kayla Lafelice, saying there's been limited oversight of education spending over the past 15 years. 

The statement goes on to say the board will receive nearly $3 billion this year and that the board will have to find any necessary savings in their budget. 

"Any other savings that the TDSB needs to find as a result of local agreements or poor management from the TDSB is the responsibility of the TDSB  — students should not have to suffer as a result of poor fiscal management," the statement says. 

The board's own structural deficit accounts for $25.7 million of the shortfall, but provincial cuts make up the other $42 million.

The TDSB's director of education John Malloy said Monday the board has taken care to leave certain areas mostly untouched, including special education dollars, safe school and anti-racism initiatives and student support services. 

The board also says it hasn't yet received technical papers with details of the province's cuts, so the suggested areas for trimming could change as talks continue. 

 

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