Trustee cries foul over school funding fairness

Another school year means another fight for money, according to one public school board trustee, who’s calling on Ottawa’s provincial election candidates to commit to fair and equal funding for all students.

“There doesn’t appear to be any political will to fix it,” said John Shea, who represents Orleans-Cumberland in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

The ministry of education uses a funding formula to calculate how much money is given to each board, based on student enrolment, the number of schools, their distribution and physical condition, among other factors.

Shea said the board “continually receives phone calls” from parents who are upset about transportation issues.

Referring to numbers comparing all four boards in Ottawa, Shea said the French public board receives almost double the transportation grants its English public counterpart gets.

Both Catholic boards also receive more money than the OCDSB.

But Ottawa-Orleans MPP Phil McNeely says the province has increased funding “even with declining enrolment,” by 34% since 2003, giving $215M to the OCDSB and $845M to boards province-wide.

“Education has been a pillar in our government,” McNeely said.

Shea says the McGuinty government “has earned an F when it comes to ensuring that public school students are funded at the same level as their Catholic and French counterparts,” a statement McNeely dismisses as “pretty radical and not reflective of the overall support.”

Overall support is something PC candidate Andrew Lister is hoping for come election day.

Lister, who’s running against McNeely, said his youngest daughter attends English public school while his eldest daughter is in the French public board.

“There’s quite a discrepancy (in funding),” said Lister.

On the other hand, NDP candidate Doug McKercher wrote in an e-mail, “school board trustees have not contacted me to make their case either, so I haven’t had an opportunity to get more information.”

And Tanya Gutmanis from the Green Party said she was waiting to hear her party’s “stance on this issue,” but did not respond in time for deadline.

There’s just over three weeks left until election day.

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/09/12/trustee-cries-foul-over-school-funding-fairness

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