School boards in Nova Scotia will be facing some “impossible choices” if the provincial government doesn’t channel new money into public classrooms, a group of education partners said Thursday.
Representatives from five different organizations representing school boards, teachers, administrators and parents came together at Ian Forsyth Elementary in Dartmouth to ask the NDP government to allot at least $36 million in new funding for schools in its spring budget.
They say that’s the absolute minimum required to maintain the current system.
“Teachers have been doing everything they can to make the system work, but it’s come to the point now that if we don’t get funding we’re looking at serious consequences,” said Alexis Allen, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
According to Allen, some of those consequences could include 800 fewer classroom teachers, cuts to special education programs, and school closures.
“We are sensitive to where the economy is and the position the government is in … but if we do not get that $36 million, a combination of those things will happen,” she said. “There are no ifs, ands or buts.”
Allen said an independent report on the state of the province’s schools initially indicated the schools would need a minimum of $50 million, but the education partners quickly realized that was “unrealistic” in the present economic climate.
The NDP are currently staring down the barrel of a $525 million deficit, and are conducting a series of town hall-style meetings throughout Nova Scotia to gather public input on how to fix the province’s finances.
Janet Walsh, president of the Federation of home and School Associations, said she hopes schools will be a main topic of conversation at the sessions.
“These students are going to be the plumbers that we need, the physicians, the nurses,” Walsh said. “If they lack something today that they need, we’ll see that further along … they need to have a sound education.”