May 17, 2019
Members of Provincial Parliament
Peel Region – PC Caucus
Ministry of Education
13th floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Dear Members of Provincial Parliament, Peel, PC Caucus:
We are in receipt of your open letter to all directors of education, trustees and Peel residents, dated May 17, 2019. Thank you for reaching out to us and for your stated commitment to working together to protect and enhance the public education system. As always, we welcome the opportunity to meet with you face-to-face to share our concerns so that you can better understand the on-the-ground impact of recent Ministry of Education decisions on Peel District School Board students.
We understand the government's focus on restoring fiscal sustainability for the people of Ontario. But, we cannot stand by as the province makes changes that affect students without offering factual accounts of what these changes mean at the micro-level—to students, classrooms and schools across Peel Region.
Although adding one, two or six students to a class may seem like an insignificant impact, it has already resulted in the cancellation of many courses at the secondary level. Fewer teachers means fewer options for students. There is no room for debate on this.
The elimination or reduction of these courses impacts student choice and can decrease student engagement, which is directly linked to student achievement, credit acquisition and, ultimately, the ability to graduate. And, yes, it is true that schools decide which courses to cancel, but they are doing so responsibly. Their focus must be on offering courses that all of their students require in order to graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or Ontario Secondary School Certificate. We welcome the opportunity to sit with you and board staff to help you understand the timetabling process and its complexities, and how increasing class sizes can lead to lower graduation rates.
With respect to impacts on staffing, we have never said the government is firing teachers. And yes, staffing processes take place every school year that can result in teachers being declared surplus to region, but that has not happened in the Peel board for more than a decade. This year, we issued surplus to region notices to 369 teachers and 30 designated early childhood educators. Some of these individuals will be recalled through attrition protection, retirements and resignations, but not all. We informed staff not to cause grief or anxiety, but to let affected individuals know so they can plan for the future, and to adhere to staffing timelines outlined in collective agreements. To lay these decisions entirely at the feet of school boards is unfair.
Although the government claims it is investing more in education this year than last year, this is not the Peel board reality. In fact, based on estimates provided to us to date, we anticipate less funding next school year compared to this year, despite our projected growth in student enrolment and increases due to inflation. This is not fake math.
The suggestion that we are sharing inaccurate and premature information with our communities is simply untrue. The impacts are real, not imagined, and our intention has never been to fear-monger, but to advocate on behalf of the students and communities we serve. Respectfully, these public attacks on our integrity as a board undermine our focus on student success and do not move us forward. We are invested in what is best for Peel students and trust the government is as well.
Like you, we hope to offer our families and staff greater clarity in the coming days. Once we have had the opportunity to review technical papers from the ministry that outline the Peel board's final funding allocation, which are expected next week, we plan to share the impacts with our communities.
In previous communication to families, we acknowledged ministry funding that will help make a positive difference for students and families, e.g. attrition protection and increased transportation and school renewal funding. But, we will also let staff and families know where we fall short. We have a responsibility to be open and to advocate on their behalf.
Cuts to funding lead to changes to the delivery of public education. As a board, we are committed to working within an approved financial framework to balance our budget and continue to provide students with high-quality learning opportunies. We stand by the information we are sharing as we believe it is in everyone's best interests to be aware of the impacts on public education. Again, we would be pleased to meet with you to share our concerns, and to join together to make this better for Peel District School Board students.
Carrie Andrews – Brampton Wards 7/8
Susan Benjamin – Mississauga Ward 5
Stan Cameron, Chair – Caledon
Robert Crocker – Mississauga Wards 6/11
Nokha Dakroub – Mississauga Wards 9/10
Will Davies – Brampton Wards 2/6
David Green – Brampton Wards 1/5
Sue Lawton, Vice-Chair – Mississauga Wards 3/4
Brad MacDonald – Mississauga Wards 2/8
John Marchant – Mississauga Wards 1/7
Kathy McDonald – Brampton Wards 3/4
Balbir Sohi – Brampton Wards 9/10
c. Peel Members of Provincial Parliament
Peel School Councils
Peel Student Councils
Peel Special Education Advisory Committee
Peel Parent Involvement Committee
Peel Indigenous Education Advisory Council
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board Trustees
Marianne Mazzorato, Director of Education, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Chairs of all Ontario Public and Catholic School Boards
Ontario Public School Boards’ Association