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:
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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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:
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