Public education is a commitment by the people of Nova Scotia to all its children. Public education is a provincial responsibility – one that is best discharged through a funding system that recognizes the right of all Nova Scotia children to an equitable share of the province’s resources in a universally accessible education system.
March reminds us to turn our thoughts from the darkness of winter to the brightness of spring. It is time again for all of us to start thinking of the budget for 2010-2011. The new budget for the government of Nova Scotia will soon find the light of day. There are many who forecast a tight budget. There will be forces who will be promoting huge shares of these public monies. Adequate funding is important to the task of maintaining quality services to our schools and subsequently to our students. We have a responsibility to ensure that increased funding will be available to maintain a quality education for our children.
The major focus of our educational partners the: Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union, Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators, Home & School Federation of Nova Scotia and the parents for French, has been clearly stated in our ‘Save Grade 2’ initiative. Ron Marks, President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, stated, “The primary goal of the campaign is to reinforce the government’s belief that continued investment in public education will chart the course for the future economic prosperity of the province”. Board Chair, Lorne Green, stated, “The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is committed to making the best choices when it comes to our students’ future, but sometimes these choices are difficult to make. Some of the areas of concern for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board are:
We know that we have all heard the same message from the government that you have – that the province is in a dire financial position and the dollars are not there. We realize that the government of Nova Scotia is in a dire financial position and that dollars are very limited. We acknowledge that the government faces a huge challenge; however, our advice is strategic – investing in education today is a smart growth strategy for Nova Scotia.
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board appreciated the support from: staff, board members, school advisory council presidents and parents/guardians at a recent meeting with Finance Minister, Graham Steele, in Whitney Pier. Their articulation was clear – “We can suggest some ideas to government on their balance initiatives, but our priority is to adequately fund the educational services to children who are currently in the classrooms today”.
Let us understand fully that our students can’t wait for the economy to turn around. The educational partners: school boards, teachers, administrators and parents are urging all Nova Scotians to get out to the public consultations on finances that are taking place throughout the province. There are three things that the public who value education should do:
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board looks forward to the upcoming events this year because it does require a close reflection on the progress we have made, a realistic analysis of the obstacles we face and the classification and communication of what we need to do next to keep improving student learning for all kids.
It is the responsibility of the government to determine the mandate, goals and standards of the educational system, provide the financial resources to achieve the goals, determine the level of performance, and report the results of the system’s performance to the public on a regular basis. Regional boards have been delegated responsibility by the province to deliver programs to meet the needs of all their students.
The province has created a formula (Hogg Formula) process to provide the means to allocate funding to regional boards to provide a quality education, reflecting the needs of students and society. The Hogg formula for this year will be updated, but its philosophy for equality will not be altered – [this year!]. It is interesting to note that in earlier days, educational funds came largely from a mixture of fees, poll taxes and property taxes. In some areas of the province, there are still municipal taxes available over the mandated minimum local taxes that provide for special services and programs within the municipality. From the perspective of an individual student, it can be argued that the quality of education ought not to be compromised by the inability of a specific region to participate where he/she may reside.
Once again, we dedicate a commentary to parents and guardians of our students. Let’s face it, if it was not for the parents and guardians, there would be no Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board staff and there would be no schools. While this seems to be a very simplistic statement, it carries behind it some weighty philosophy. We have schools in order to educate our youth because our founding fathers, as well as all people of foresight and knowledge, knew the value of education. Yet, when a child enters school, he/she enters a new environment, but they remain part of the family from which they came. Throughout the school years, that family continues to be the child’s base, the nourishing source that will help to shape the adult.
The school and the home – two mighty and powerful forces that have in the past, are now, and will in the future be, the shaping forces for our students. When the two are working together, the students cannot help but benefit, grow and learn in an atmosphere that tells him/her constantly that he/she is cared for, appreciated and loved.
One of the major initiatives this year is to assist all schools in developing, rejuvenating and creating school improvement plans which reflects the efforts of the school site to help pupils achieve greater success in their educational endeavors. The past months have brought forward a concern that has initiated a coming together of many community organizations. I make reference to the concern for illegal drugs within our community. The representatives of the school board, the regional police force, the health services, the R.C.M.P. and the pharmacists met and started preliminary talks about the increasing levels of illegal drugs in our community. It is the interest of this steering committee to create an awareness of the drug problem and to develop a working paper to help advise our communities of the challenges facing them and the solutions to some of these issues.
There was a time when the problem of drug abuse among the young was not considered to be a problem. If one or two juvenile delinquents used drugs, that was regrettable, but hardly something to get upset about. After all, that happened only in the slums of the city or in terrible homes where parents didn’t care. Certainly, it could never be a cause for concern for us, the people who maintained good homes, who gave our children the best educational opportunities, who loved our children and cared about their welfare. Sadly, we know today that drug abuse among the young touches every segment of society. It is not a problem reserved for the city or the poor or the broken home or the ghetto school. In the best of our nation’s schools, in the finest and most nurturing of families, in the most affluent of homes, in the loveliest of suburbs – drug abuse is present. Not only is it present, but it is a major problem of such proportions that there is no strata, no segment of society which is unaffected by it.
I direct your attention to the Board Chair’s comments from principals which alert us to the varied successes and celebrations related to our students. Please take some time to read and provide feedback to the schools that have made the effort to contribute these articles. The articles can be viewed on our website: (www.cbv.ns.ca)
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