DSBN Budget Bolsters Special Education
Increased supports for students with special needs highlights a balanced budget focused on student learning. At their regular meeting on June 10, Trustees of the Board passed the $431,423,854 million dollar spending plan for the 2014/15 school year. The budget directs resources to fully implement the Full Day Kindergarten program across the system, support mathematics instruction and strengthen the Board’s special education programming.
The 2014/15 budget includes over $1.2 million dollars in additional special education funding. It is the first year of a four year phase in of the new special education funding model established by the Ministry of Education.
“The change to the special education funding formula is fantastic news for students,” said Dalton Clark, Chair of the Finance Committee. “DSBN has been advocating for fair and equitable funding for all students with special needs across the Province for many years. With this new budget, and over the next few years, we will finally have that. Typically, the DSBN has experienced a shortfall in special education funding compared to other boards across Ontario. Now, this additional funding will continue to enable us to give the best possible service to our most vulnerable students.”
Enhancements to the special education budget will allow the Board to hire additional full-time Educational Assistants (EA) to provide direct support to students in the classroom. The EAs will provide support as needed across the system and will improve the Board’s ability to be responsive to the range of student needs. The DSBN will also add a total of four Early Years Intervention Teachers to support the Board’s youngest at-risk students. The revised funding model will also provide for the hiring of a special education resource teacher, three social workers and an additional interpreter to assist the growing number of students who require sign language and communication accommodations.
Supporting student learning across the system, the 2014/15 budget also increases funding to improve student and teacher skills in numeracy. The budget allocates nearly $200,000 for students to access the Dreambox interactive math program and provide for teachers to upgrade their credentials through additional qualification courses in mathematics.
“Math is an area of concern for Boards across Ontario,” said Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education. “Increasing access to Dreambox for elementary students and supporting improved teaching practice through the AQ courses are two strategies we can employ to support student learning.”
Beginning in September, all DSBN public schools offering Kindergarten will have full-day programs. The budget includes $1.7 million dollars from the Ministry to allow the DSBN to fully implement the program at the 15 remaining school sites adding 63 Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE). In the Full Day Kindergarten program classroom teachers work alongside DECEs to deliver an engaging, play-based program that helps students develop the foundation for future success in school.
“Although we are living in times of fiscal restraint, Trustees worked very hard to arrive at a budget that is responsible, fair and provides students in Niagara with the resources, programs and supports necessary for them to become successful in school,” said Kevin Maves, Chair of the Board.