April 26, 2007
Government Delivers on its Vision for
The Williams Government remains steadfast in its commitment to provide the highest possible quality education for the students of Newfoundland and Labrador, to make sure they are well prepared for further education and career opportunities. Budget 2007 increases funding for the K-12 system by $41 million. This increase reflects the overall education budget, both K-12 and post-secondary, which has surpassed $1 billion, second only to funding for health.
"Newfoundland and Labrador has an education system that is on par with or surpasses any other in the country," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education. "Budget 2007 investments build on the many successful initiatives of the past three years and will address areas that have been identified for improvement."
Key initiatives include free textbooks for the prescribed curriculum for Grades 9 to Level III, an infusion of funding for maintenance and renovations, the construction of new schools, improvements to the curriculum, and additional teachers.
Funding is also earmarked for school technology, for administrative and technology support for school boards, for the community use of schools, for public libraries and, in cooperation with Aboriginal partners, new initiatives to support Aboriginal youth.
"Budget 2007 speaks very clearly to the importance the Williams Government continues to place on education by acting on its vision to build a better education system for our students from Kindergarten to Level III," said Minister Burke.
School Infrastructure Investments
Budget 2007 will see over $49 million allocated for repairs and maintenance and new school construction. This represents an additional $12.3 million over last year. School districts will also see a 67 per cent increase in their operating grants, from 55 cents to 92 cents per square foot. "This is an increase of over $14 million to give each school board increased funding to ensure proper maintenance of all schools in their districts, as well as substantial new funding for major renovations and school construction," said Minister Burke.
Budget 2007 allocates funding for infrastructure projects in Port Hope Simpson, St. Anthony, Paradise, Sheshatshui and the Francophone School in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Details of these and other projects will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Ongoing projects which require capital investments this year include redevelopment of the former Herdman Collegiate in Corner Brook; new schools in Mobile, Port Saunders, L�Anse au Loup, Torbay, Placentia and Baie Verte, and extensions/renovations to MSB Academy in Middle Arm, Exploits Valley Intermediate (Greenwood Division) in Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander Collegiate in Gander, Botwood Collegiate in Botwood and Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, among others.
Many schools provide a location for community activities. Government will provide $100,000 annually to resolve the issue of insurance which has limited community use of school facilities in the past. This investment will cover each school boards insurance liability for the building and will allow community sports teams, volunteer groups, and others access to schools after hours and on weekends.
As noted in new initiatives for the province�s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Provincial Government will spend $12.8 million to provide textbooks to students in Grades 9 to Level III. Textbooks that are required for the prescribed curriculum will no longer have to be purchased. "This builds on last year�s investment of $6.3 million annually to eliminate school fees," said Minister Burke. "We believe firmly that education is a right, not a privilege, and I am pleased that we are removing the undue stress many parents feel when having to purchase textbooks."
Other Investments in the K-12 System Include:
Supports for Aboriginal Students
Commitment to Literacy
Government�s commitment to improving the education system is also demonstrated by the following recently announced Budget 2007 initiatives:
"For the first time in the history of this province, investments in education will exceed $1 billion," said Minister Burke. "The Williams Government has raised the bar on spending in
education to make sure our students have access to the highest quality teaching and learning resources in safe and secure environments. Education plays a critical role in our growth and prosperity, both individually and as a province. We will continue to act on our vision for excellence."
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