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Budget 2006 - The Right Choices : Momentum for Growth and Prosperity
March 30, 2006


The Right Choices: Investing in Education

The Williams government is sending a strong signal that it recognizes the critical role education plays in both individual achievement and our overall success as a province, Joan Burke, Education Minister, announced today. Budget 2006 gives the province�s education system an infusion of more than $100 million.

"This year�s budget allocation for education is a reflection of the input and expertise of the many people who contribute daily to education in our province and who have shared their knowledge and insight with us," said Minister Joan Burke. "Today, I am pleased to put forward initiatives and investments that speak directly to what we have heard from parents, students, teachers and other educators across the education system."

New initiatives designed to improve student achievement, accelerate skills development, enhance aging infrastructure, support teachers and reduce the financial burden of education-related costs to parents rank among the highlights of this year�s budget.

  • Over $40 million in funding in the K-12 system in key areas such as the reduction of school fees, the retention of 151 teachers , school busing and fuel costs, laboratory safety equipment, technology education, capital and maintenance initiatives;
  • Almost $45 million in funding at Memorial University, for White Paper initiatives, research funding and infrastructure needs; and,
  • Approximately $15 million at College of the North Atlantic, to address infrastructure requirements, programming and resources for skilled trades, and adult learning.
  • "Today, I am especially pleased with our investment of $6.3 million to essentially eliminate school fees. This will alleviate the undue stress and burden many of our families feel at the beginning of each school year because of school fees and the purchase of prescribed consumable materials. As we move to advance our knowledge in the areas of innovation, skills and technology, we have not lost sight of the fact that education is a fundamental right for every child and have taken measures to ensure all children will be afforded the same level of learning, regardless of their family�s income," said Minister Burke.

    Government is also taking an aggressive approach to prepare our students and adult learners for an economy that is increasingly based on skills and technology, to support the needs of industry and business and to position the province to take full advantage of current and future economic development.

    To determine how best to serve students and achieve success as a province, government considered individually, the cornerstones of the education system � teachers, resources, modern technology, healthy and safe learning environments and transportation. Attention to these areas is reflected in the following initiatives announced today as part of Budget 2006.


    Safety and Health of Students

  • $5.3 million to reduce the age of school buses, to purchase 67 new buses and to offset maintenance and the increased cost of fuel, in keeping with government�s commitment to ensure safe environments for our children;
  • $2.2 million for high school laboratory safety equipment and teacher training in laboratory work, to support the move to developing additional skills in our students; and,
  • $1 million for the extension of the Physical Education Equipment Program to students in intermediate grades, providing consistency with government�s wellness agenda.
  • Support for Local School Systems

  • $1.5 million to ensure our school boards have adequate staffing resources, in order to effectively deliver services and supports to individual schools in each district; and,
  • $125,000 for a liaison position to strengthen partnerships between school boards and school councils and to support the volunteer work of parents in this capacity.
  • Commitment to Literacy

  • $1.2 million to improve access to adult learning and literacy by increasing the number of Adult Basic Education programs offered at College of the North Atlantic as a means to increase career opportunities for all citizens; and,
  • $250,000 to extend the hours of operation of 42 public library sites, emphasizing the importance of literacy from the very young to seniors.
  • Collaboration with Industry

  • $1.1 million for a research/training ship for the Marine Institute reflecting the importance of research and innovation in all fields; and,
  • $500,000 for the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (Memorial University), which provides services to the offshore petroleum, marine transportation and fishing industries.
  • Skills Training and Apprenticeship

  • $600,000 to support Apprenticeship Training Programs at Memorial University and the other government-funded entities;
  • $270,000 for a Mentorship Program for Women in Apprenticeship to promote skills development; and,
  • $650,000 to expand the Comprehensive Arts and Science College Transition Program (CAS).
  • Details of these and other initiatives of Budget 2006, including capital commitments for the K-12 system, will be announced in the coming weeks.

    Government�s commitment to, and recognition of, the importance of education has also been demonstrated by the following Budget 2006 initiatives announced recently:

  • $5.6 million to maintain 151 teachers, review the Teacher Allocation Model and ISSP/Pathways Model;
  • $100,000 for the establishment of a Skills Task Force to ensure the education system is meeting the future needs of large-scale development projects and partnering with industry; and,
  • $2 million for a technology integration program and skilled trades and technology program in high school.
  • "We must not only support the very early stages of classroom learning, but position our students and the province to take advantage of emerging opportunities in preparation for an economy in which skills and technology are critical to our success," said Minister Burke. "The education initiatives in Budget 2006 are a significant step to help our students, teachers, parents and employers achieve their individual goals, and to move our province forward."

    Media contact: Jacquelyn Howard, Communications, (709) 729-0048, 689-2624

    2006 03 30                                             2:20 p.m.

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