Aug 29, 2007 04:30 AM
Ontario's education funding formula needs to be immediately reviewed, and government spending should be scrutinized every year to ensure schools have their needs met, New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said yesterday.
The Liberal government has said it will wait until 2010 before launching a review of the funding formula, but Hampton says that process cannot wait.
School boards are being forced to make cuts based on rising costs that weren't accounted for, and the education system is suffering as a result, he said.
"We cannot continue to go down a road where schools are inadequately funded, where principals, administrators and trustees are constantly being forced to make more decisions about more cuts," Hampton said.
"If, for example, natural gas rates go up by 80 per cent and that isn't reflected in the school funding formula, then you end up where we are today: money's being taken out of the English as a Second Language budget, money's being taken out of special education to pay the heating bill."
He pledged to invest an additional $400 million through a Local Priorities Grant, which would give school boards $200 per student to fund essentials and priorities.
Hampton also said new money should be set aside for students at risk who go to school in communities where violence and crime are common.
He suggested as much as $100 million could be earmarked for special programs in such communities.