Increased Funding and Supports for Students, Op-ed
NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Derek Mombourquette, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development
Over the last few days, there have been reports about school staffing for next September that are not accurate and I want to correct the record:
- no teacher is losing their job; in fact, there will be at least 70 new teachers hired
- across the province, more than 260 new school staff – psychologists, education assistants, guidance counsellors, autism support staff and more – are being hired to support students in the classroom
- overall, the provincial education budget will rise by $112 million, including $15 million more for inclusive education
- over four years, we have invested an additional $60 million in inclusive education, resulting in more than 600 new positions that have added support for students, teachers and families
- since 2013, Nova Scotia’s education budget has increased by 45 per cent and created more than 1,400 new positions
I will also address the narrative I am hearing about “cutting” teaching positions.
Each spring, when teachers receive their assignments for the following fall, as mandated by their collective agreement, there are those who claim teaching positions are being “cut.”
This is not correct. I want to reassure teachers, staff and students that there are no staff cuts. In fact, we anticipate adding more staff.
What is different this year is that enrollment is decreasing in Halifax Regional Centre for Education high schools.
The situation is the result of a change that was made back in 2008. That year, the minimum age for children starting primary dropped by three months. This change led to a one-year blip with larger class sizes.
With the so-called “double cohort” graduating, this means more staff will be moving between schools or having their assignment change for the next school year.
But know this – because we are continuing to grow overall, no teacher will lose their job.
Also, the collective agreement now allows for an increase in preparation time for teachers across the province. This additional benefit, which Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) leaders agreed to and was ratified by teachers, means that all teachers in the province will have the same instructional time and the same marking and planning time. This new benefit begins in September and is the first time this negotiated timetable will be implemented.
I appreciate the work of teachers and all education staff. Our collaborative efforts with the NSTU and other unions in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education system has led to children in Nova Scotia having one of the most successful school years in Canada.
I call on the NSTU and others to help us move to the next school year and the new collective agreement in a way that builds on this collaboration and ensures that the next school year is even more positive as we all emerge from COVID together.