April 4, 2007

Teacher Allocations Announced � Focus on Need Versus Numbers

To ensure the highest quality education for students across Newfoundland and Labrador, the Williams Government will invest $6.4 million in Budget 2007 in teaching positions. School districts will have 137 teachers above the current teacher allocation model to distribute to schools across their districts. The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, also announced today an additional 25 teachers to support a new Excellence in Mathematics Strategy and 13 new positions to address increased need in the province�s growth areas.

"Our challenge is to make sure that, despite a declining population, students can engage in a high quality curriculum that will prepare them for a successful post-secondary education and future career opportunities," said Minister Burke. "We have recognized that the traditional method to determine the number of teachers in the K-12 system, known as the Sparkes-Williams formula, is no longer effective. Despite fewer students, we will make an annualized investment of $24 million, based on Budget 2007 and actions taken in previous budgets, to maintain the current level of teachers and create new teaching positions for the upcoming school year."

Today�s announcement supports the Williams Government Blue Book commitment to cap class sizes and ensure the educational needs of students across the province are being met. This year, a class size cap of 25 will be implemented for Grade 3. This builds on the class size cap of 25 already implemented for Grades K-2.

"This is a tremendous investment in the K-12 education system, not only in terms of the monetary value, but more importantly, in the message it sends to teachers, school administrators, school boards and parents," said Minister Burke. "We are continuing to make unprecedented investments in education and will determine the number of teachers by the need of individual schools."

The minister noted that the coming year will be a period of transition while a new method of allocating teachers is determined. "A review of the current Teacher Allocation Model is ongoing. The review commission has been engaged in research and consultations with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders across the province. I look forward to receiving the commission�s report and trust it will guide the department�s work to develop a new model."

Minister Burke also outlined details today of a new $11.3 million, three-year initiative to improve student achievement in mathematics in the K-12 system.

"The Excellence in Mathematics Strategy is designed to provide substantial support to students, teachers and parents. Our goal is to address areas of concern identified by parents and teachers, help students with their performance, and encourage an increased interest and enthusiasm for math," said the minister.

In addition to 25 new teaching positions, major components of the strategy include:

  • Excellence in Teaching and Learning, with a focus on professional development and resources for teachers;
  • Curriculum Development and Review, with a focus on the nature and amount of curriculum covered and a review of textbooks;
  • Parent Support, with a focus on sessions and workshops for parents and the development of materials to assist parents at home.
  • The minister noted that the Excellence in Mathematics Strategy also supports a need identified by the provincial Skills Task Force. A strong background in math is necessary to gain a solid foundation for skilled trades and technical training at the post-secondary level. The Excellence in Mathematics Strategy will work to ensure more students graduate from high school with academic or advanced math.

    "There was overwhelming consensus both at the task force table and during consultations for an immediate plan to improve outcomes in math in the K-12 system," said Bob Ridgley, chair of the Skills Task Force. "In order to actively engage in a skilled labour force, strong achievement in academic and advanced math is essential. We are extremely pleased that government has moved quickly on this very important initiative."

    "The announcement today regarding teacher allocations, new teaching positions and the Excellence in Mathematics Strategy all focus on addressing the needs of our students," said Minister Burke. "We are making significant investments and I look forward to working with our partners in education to continue to build an education system that is second to none."

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    Media contact:
    Jacquelyn Howard
    Direction of Communications
    Department of Education
    709-729-0048, 689-2624


    As reflected by unprecedented investments in recent years, education is a priority for the Williams Government, recognized as being central to both individual achievement and the overall success of the province. As an example, an additional $100 million was allocated in Budget 2006, bringing total spending in the K-12 and post-secondary education systems to almost $1 billion, second only to health care.

    Highlights of investments in the K-12 system under the Williams administration include:

  • Over $80 million allocated for new school construction, repairs and maintenance since Budget 2004. This includes new schools for Torbay, Mobile, Baie Verte, Port Saunders, L�Anse au Loup and Placentia;
  • Over 360 renovation projects currently underway, including extensive renovations for schools in Middle Arm, Botwood, Gander and Grand Falls�Windsor;
  • $9 million for a three-year comprehensive, sustainable fine arts and cultural strategy, including 23 additional music teachers, new curriculum materials, more local resources and new musical equipment;
  • $8.3 million to reduce the age of school buses and to purchase new school buses;
  • $6.3 million for the elimination of school fees and the purchase of consumables;
  • $6 million for the new Futures in Skilled Trades and Technology Program, 1,200 new computers, machinery, tools and technology equipment;
  • $2 million to purchase new, state of the art, physical education equipment for intermediate and high school grades;
  • $2.2 million for a laboratory safety equipment program in high school;
  • $250,000 for the development and financial support to school districts for Healthy Food Guidelines.
  • 2007 04 04                                                       11:15 a.m.


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