April 26, 2007

Government Delivers on its Vision for Excellence
in the K-12 School System

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:

Curriculum Enhancements

  • $2.8 million for year three of the Cultural Connections strategy;
  • $1.5 million for year two of the Futures in Skilled Trades and Technology pilot in high schools;
  • $1.65 million to continue the purchase of laboratory safety equipment;
  • $800,000 for the extension of the Physical Education Equipment Program for Kindergarten to Grade 6;
  • $800,000 for the Healthy School/Healthy Living initiative to purchase cafeteria equipment necessary for implementation of the School Food Guidelines; and,
  • $400,000 for a review of the intermediate program (Grades 7 to 9) to better prepare students for high school.
  • Technology Enhancements

  • $1 million for licensing of computer software;
  • $583,500 for additional information technology support specialists to service and maintain school computer systems; and,
  • $500,000 for the continued development and implementation of a K-12 technology plan.
  • Supports for Aboriginal Students

  • $330,000 for enhanced guidance services;
  • $150,000 for an interchange program for students in Grades 8 and Level I;
  • $100,000 for cultural sensitivity training for teachers;
  • $400,000 to establish a training institute to help high school students prepare to work on industrial projects in Labrador;
  • $200,000 to adapt the Futures in Skills Trades Program to the specific needs of Labrador high school and adult learners; and,
  • $320,000 for after school programs to support students� health, social and academic growth.
  • Commitment to Literacy

  • $385,000 in new funding for provincial libraries, including the development of a pre-school literacy program.
  • Government�s commitment to improving the education system is also demonstrated by the following recently announced Budget 2007 initiatives:

  • $11.3 million, over three years, for a new Excellence in Mathematics Strategy to improve student performance in math through a review of the current math curriculum, 25 new teaching positions, professional development for teachers and support for parents wishing to help their children with homework; and,
  • $5.2 million for teaching positions, in addition to teaching positions for the Excellence in Mathematics Strategy, despite a significant decline in enrolment.
  • "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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    Media contact:
    Jacquelyn Howard
    Director of Communications
    Department of Education
    709-729-0048, 689-2624

    2007 04 26                                             2:10 p.m.

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