TRURO – The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is remaining cautious at news the province is increasing the amount of money it gives schools boards.
“We just received the information today, it’s going to take some time to go through it before we know how it will impact our budget,” board spokeswoman Debbie Buott Matheson said. “Funding is never a straight forward thing. It’s going to take a few days to sit down and look at the numbers to see how it’s going to affect us going forward.”
Education Minister Ramona Jennex announced Thursday that province will increase funding to more than $1 billion in 2013-14. As a result, the minister said, no permanent teachers will lose their jobs, approximately 170 new teachers will be hired, class sizes will remain capped and school boards can hire 25 new program support staff, psychologists and speech language pathologists while maintaining their existing complement.
As well, the funding allocation for teaching assistants will increase by 15.
The province is making the funding commitment even through the Education Department projects enrolment to drop by 2,300 provincially.
“We made a commitment under the Kids and Learning First education plan to do things differently and focus on making sure every student is successful,” Jennex said in a news release. “We are doing that by increasing the funding to school boards in 2013-14. There will be new teachers hirec and more money for staff who work with students with special needs. We are investing more money per student than ever before.”
Buott Matheson said she doesn’t want to comment on whether the province’s funding commitment is good news or not because it’s too early in the budget process to determine how each area will be affected. However, at first glance she said it appears to be positive news.
The commitment could represent a significant change over the last two years when school boards and the minister have battled over funding levels with the province cutting the amount of money it gave the boards in reaction to declining enrolment.
In Chignecto-Central, the board cut 130 full-time equivalent positions last year to cut $6.5 million from the budget after having a very public spat with both Jennex and Premier Darrell Dexter, who brought in a senior official from Treasury Board to suggest how the board could make cuts.
That came a year after the board cut an additional $2.2 million.