Last Friday, the Ontario PC government dropped a bombshell when they sent a memo to school boards announcing they would be slashing $25 million in funding of specialized programming in elementary and high schools. It is still not entirely clear how these cuts will affect schools in Hamilton and surrounding areas.
The money is coming out of the fund known as the Education programs-other, or EPO fund. Specialized programs including things like Indigenous education initiatives, mental health supports and programs for racialized students, are among some of the programs on the chopping block. The cuts will affect each of the province’s 72 school boards differently, because they don’t all provide the same programs.
The director of education for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board penned an open letter addressing the cuts and how schools in this region will be affected.
The letter states that $270 000 impacting eight programs and services have been eliminated for this current school year. The board says they recognize the impact these cuts will have on all students, including the more vulnerable and marginalized.
He also says despite the $270 000 cut, the majority of the programming will continue.
Other boards however are getting hit much harder, like in Toronto, where 95 jobs will be lost at the Catholic Board as a direct result of these cuts. Boards in Hamilton, Halton and Niagara have not announced any job losses. The Hamilton Catholic Board says there was no impact to the school budget, but could not provide a list of the specific programs cut. The Niagara Public Board says there are no job cuts, but a grant request was denied for extracurricular activities. The Halton District Board says that some of their programming will be cut, but not all, and that they are awaiting further information about funding allocation.
Some teachers also say the programs that were cut were in fact working well, with many criticizing the Ford government claiming the slashes were made without proper research and consultation.