July 9, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government will re-profile $2.9 million to school districts to reinstate services to school libraries and intervention programs across the province.
Education Minister Roland Haché made the announcement today after reviewing the department's budget with senior officials and after consulting with stakeholders.
Haché also announced that the government will maintain its commitment to funding innovation and creativity in the classroom. The government will retain an annual Innovative Learning Fund (ILF) budget of $1 million, and it will support projects it has previously committed to funding.
"I am proud of the investments that our government has made to improve the education system for our children and grandchildren," said Haché. "The government has boosted education funding over the past two years by more than 15 per cent, resulting in more children than ever reading and writing at the appropriate level. These record investments have also resulted in the return of art, music, physical education and the trades to schools; furthermore, more teachers and support workers are in the schools than ever before.
"My predecessor, Kelly Lamrock, had a vision of fostering one of the best and most innovative education systems in the world. I share that vision, as does our government, which is why we will continue the ILF and honour those projects already approved."
Haché added: "Minister Lamrock worked hard to find alternatives to a reduction in services to school libraries and intervention programs, so long as the ILF were maintained. I am pleased to say that our announcement today brings this process to a successful completion."
The minister said that eliminating the ILF would run counter to two well-established facts: that the ILF has been successful; and that those jurisdictions which lead in education, invest in innovation.
Haché said he took a number of factors into consideration before making this decision.
"I have spent time reviewing the department's budget with my senior officials and considering provincial fiscal realities, our greater economic context, students' needs, stakeholder concerns and the importance of innovation in the classroom. I am confident that the decision to re-profile funds strikes the right balance," Haché said. "I would like to thank our stakeholders for taking part in this important discussion about the ways we can meet the challenges ahead together. Their collaboration, participation and co-operation have been invaluable in this process."
The Department of Education and school districts will collaborate with union representatives in the coming weeks to expedite the necessary reinstatement of services to school libraries and intervention programs. The objective is to have staff in place before school opens in September.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Hillary Casey and Johanne Le Blanc, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4714.