Make Sure Toronto District School Board’s Budget Meets the Needs of Inner City Students

Make Sure Toronto District School Board’s Budget Meets the Needs of Inner City Students

Social Planning Toronto is an active member of the Toronto District School Board’s Inner City Advisory Committee (ICAC). With this committee we have been bringing to the board’s attention the need for more focused funding and programming to address the poverty that exists in Toronto’s inner city and is hampering the success of the city’s neediest students. We need your support to further this cause. Recently, the ICAC passed a motion asking the school board to specifically allocate more money in its 2010-11 budget to address the effects of poverty in the school system.

Here’s why:

Toronto is increasingly a city split along income divides. As the middle class disappears poverty is becoming more entrenched among those living in Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods where the majority of the population are people of colour and/or newcomers to Canada. Because of our current system of underfunding education unless special programs are created and financed by Toronto’s school boards students from inner city schools are unable to keep up with their peers from wealthier neighbourhoods better able to raise program dollars through fundraising. These fundraising dollars go to everything from arts enrichment to playground equipment, yet fundraising alone cannot compensate for the fact that some students have parents who work more than one job so may not be able to help with homework, or who may not be able to afford enough food for their families – sending their children to school hungry.

Students from economically and socially vulnerable conditions are at higher risk for academic difficulties and require more supports. The Learning Opportunities Grant (LOG) is a Ministry of Education grant established to provide supports for these students. Research from the Toronto District School Board’s 2010 Model Schools for Inner Cities: Three Year Research Highlights Report demonstrates that when the LOG is used to fund tools that combat inequities, such as remedial reading, breakfast and lunch programs, tutors, mentoring, summer school, literacy and numeracy programs and homework clubs, both the opportunity and achievement gap can be closed. Unfortunately, because of chronic underfunding by the province – that urgently requires some kind of systemic remedy – the LOG is often spread around to cover other funding shortfalls and is not used for its intended purpose.

We, the Inner City Advisory Committee and Social Planning Toronto, are well aware that the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is facing another funding shortfall for the 2010-11 budget cycle, yet given the current recession we believe it is more important than ever to put the LOG money to its intended use and spend it on programs that have been proven successful.

We are, therefore, asking the TDSB to pass our motion which would see:

  1. A 2% increase, compounded for four years, added to the Model Schools for Inner Cities program to cover inflationary increases that have not been adjusted for since the program began in 2006,
  2. An additional 7.5% the Learning Opportunities Grant, every year for three years beginning in 2011-2012 reaching 22% by 2013-2014, to flow directly to the neediest and most vulnerable students in the TDSB,
  3. The Board develop a blueprint to address the needs of our most under-served students.

* See full motion here.

Currently the motion is being circulated among different advisory committees for their endorsement. The motion will then be taken forward to the TDSB’s Programs Committee and Finance Committee. If the motion is passed it will be incorporated into the 2010-11 budget and will be voted on by the trustees in June.

Without public support it is unlikely that the motion will proceed. We need you to make sure dollars are flowing to students who need it the most. Here is what you can do:

Take Action! Here’s how:

1. Call or email your school board trustee (and cc all the rest)

Let your trustee know that you support the Inner City Advisory Committee’s motion that would increase money for inner city school programming within the Toronto District School Board.

Trustee contacts:

2. Sign the petition:

Ask TDSB trustees to address poverty in Toronto’s inner city schools in the 2010-11 budget by supporting the Inner City Advisory Committee’s motion to increase funding for programs that combat the effects of poverty on education and to create a blueprint that would address the needs of our most under-served students.

3. Endorse the motion

Would your agency be willing to sign on as an endorsing member for this motion?

If yes: email or call Lesley Johnston at [email protected] or call 416-351-0095x.216.

4. Make a deputation

Social Planning Toronto is assembling willing participants who would be able to speak on behalf on the motion at the Public Budget Consultations.

  • April 26 - East Consultation Session: 140 Borough Dr., 7pm
  • May 3 – Central Consultation Session: 5050 Yonge Street, 7 pm
  • May 4 – West Consultation Session: Islington JMS, 44 Cordova Avenue, 7 pm

Contact Lesley Johnston at [email protected] or 416-351-0095x.216 if you might be interested in giving or participating in giving a deputation.

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