Rainbow Board seeks answers as to why funding cut by $1.3 million

SUDBURY—Officials with the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) are still trying to get clarification as to why the board has been hit so hard with a decrease in funding for special education programs by the provincial government.

“On Monday we received a memo from the province (Ministry of Education) notifying us that our special incidents portion (SIP) funding was being modified,” said Norm Blaseg, director of education for the RDSB, late last week. “The government has changed the formula for distributing $28 million—a process the government created,” explained Mr. Blaseg. “We had been approved for $1.5 million in funding that had been approved last spring. But they (province) have decided this funding will be allocated from the SIP to Special Education for Pupil account.”

“Here’s the dilemma, under the SIP program we were supposed to receive $1,493,400,” said Mr. Blaseg. “That was taken away and redistributed to the SEP account and we received a total of $170,588. So we lost $1.3 million in funding when you compare it to the funding we had been promised in the spring.”

Mr. Blaseg said some school boards have seen their funding increase while others saw a decrease. “Those dollars count on work we carry out with our highest needs students. We are at a loss at all of this and are working with the ministry on this for clarification. It is unfortunate.” He pointed out, “Northern boards like Algoma, Timmins and North Bay all saw a reduction in funding, but we (RDSB) were hit the hardest by far in reductions. No one other board (in the North) is proportionately on the same level as we are.”

“We are at a loss with all of this, trying to get confirmation from the ministry on why we are seeing such a significant  funding reduction,” stated Mr. Blaseg. “Obviously, it causes a lot of concern for board trustees, teachers and parents.”

“We are analyzing all of this, and how it is going to affect our special education programs,” said Mr. Blaseg. “We have not received any clarity on the issue, and we hope to be able to get some clarification from the ministry. In the meantime we will just have to wait and see. It’s a little unsettling to say the least. But the devil is in the details.”