Politics
Declining enrollment to blame for Ontario school board cuts: Wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

Credits: Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- That was then. This is now.

Premier Kathleen Wynne -- a former Toronto public school trustee -- said Wednesday that the Toronto District School Board's fiscal problems are the result of declining enrolment.

"When I was a school trustee with the (TDSB), we lived in a province where there was a provincial government that really didn't believe in public education, that was working to undermine public education, that was gutting the programs that had been built up over decades in the education system," Wynne said. "We now live in a province where there's a provincial government that believes wholeheartedly and fundamentally in publicly funded education.

"I don't even think that we can compare those situations," she added.

During Wynne's tenure on the TDSB, the board tried to take then-premier Mike Harris' Tory government to court to fight an order compelling the board to balance its budget or face penalties.

The TDSB is now considering a plan that would see up to 248 classroom teaching positions and just over 100 support staffers cut.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said public and Catholic school boards must face the realities of a declining birth rate.

"Even still, in the face of that reality, we have put tens of thousands more staff into schools," Wynne said, arguing the cuts would be much deeper without those investments.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberals have never updated the Harris school funding formula, which makes it daunting for boards to fund older and smaller schools.

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