Almost half of the funds from the Province’s Demographic Portion of the Learning Opportunity Grant, intended to benefit low-income Toronto students, are being diverted a new report finds. The report by Social Planning Toronto finds that the TDSB, facing chronic underfunding, has been forced to use funding intended to support schools in low-income communities to shore-up general revenues.
“This report finds that 48% of the funding that should be going to help students in lower-income communities is being used for general revenues”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “This means that successful programs focused on aiding students in low-income schools are not getting enough funding, resulting in fewer opportunities and greater barriers to learning”.
The report uses the TDSB’s own figures released after years of concern from parents and advocacy groups. It details that only 52% of funds ear-marked, but not protected, for low-income students are being used for after-school programs, extra staff support, homework clubs and other programs focused on supporting students in need.
Nigel Barriffe, a teacher in the TDSB says the Learning Opportunity Grant funds support programs that make a considerable difference in children’s lives: “As a teacher, I see how the programs funded by these grants make a difference for students with enriched courses, student nutrition programs and greater supports for parents who want to get more involved in their child’s learning”.
Ingrid Palmer, a parent who is active on her local school’s Parent Council, says that schools in distressed communities are in desperate need of improved funding: “Our schools are relying on the funds that the Province said would be there for children facing challenges. We need these programs to ensure all students get the best possible opportunities for learning”.
“In the end, when these funds are used for their intended purpose, they make an enormous difference in the daily lives of children and families in low-income communities”, said Meagher. “The question remains how the provincial government and TDSB will respond to ensure these funds are used properly, so all students in Toronto have a fair chance to succeed”.
Help ensure that all students, no matter their socio-economic position, have the opportunity to succeed in school by sending a letter to your TDSB School Board Trustee and copying the Minister of Education, Hon. Mitzie Hunter.