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Where do Simcoe-Grey candidates stand on funding for local schools?

CollingwoodToday has asked provincial candidates how they would advocate for capital funding for schools
Clockwise from top left: Brian Saunderson for the PCs, Keith Nunn for the NDP, Ted Crysler for the Liberals, and Allan Kuhn for the Greens. asked the four main provincial candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidates’ platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.

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Q: The Simcoe County District School Board was passed over for capital funding for 2022/23, despite identifying a need for several new elementary schools and high schools, including one in Wasaga Beach and renovations for the aging Collingwood high school. How would you advocate for capital funding for schools in Simcoe County?

Allan Kuhn, Green: Kids being bussed out of their community because there is no more room for them in schools in their own community starts our children down the wrong path to a disconnected, unsustainable and fossil fuel driven urban sprawl nightmare. The Greens would establish an independent review of Ontario’s education funding formula so it adequately reflects student needs, and review the formula every five years. Ensure the updated funding formula takes into account the unique needs of remote and rural schools.

These tools would ensure decisions could not overlook reality. You should never be more than 15 minutes from the services you need. A school is a community hub. A school is a community’s future. Strong community schools = strong communities!

Brian Saunderson, PC: Our communities are growing quickly and these growth pressures have been exacerbated by the pandemic in the last 2 years. The Progressive Conservative Government committed over $40 million for a new secondary school in Alliston in 2021 to replace the Banting Memorial High School, the oldest secondary school in the Simcoe County District School Board. This is a significant and important investment for families in Simcoe Grey.

I will work with the School Board and local stakeholder groups to advocate for capital investments in local schools to ensure that our students have access to the best facilities to maximize their learning opportunities.

Ted Crysler, Liberal: The latest numbers released by Statistics Canada have made it clear that Wasaga Beach needs a high school.

We saw an 18 per cent increase in children under the age of 14 in the last five years, and in the next five years, this could mean an additional 200 children entering the already strained feeder high school in Collingwood.

With our riding set for increased density, this is not sustainable; most of all, this is not acceptable. We need to do better for our children and their education.

The Ontario Liberals will cancel the proposed Hwy. 413 and invest the $10 billion into repair of existing schools and building new schools.

As part of the Ontario Liberal Public Education plan, our priority is to cut class sizes province-wide, capping them at 20 students for every grade and hiring 10,000 teachers to ensure students get the attention they deserve. In addition, it will offer children the option of grade 13 and increase mental health supports to help mitigate some of the potential long-term harm in the aftermath of the Ford government’s handling of the pandemic.

As your Simcoe-Grey MPP, I will make sure strengthening our public education system is a priority.

I will support our school board trustees in building the business case and collaborate with all levels of government to clear a path for funding and support for key capital projects in our riding. This includes expediting the much needed Wasaga Beach high school and other capital priorities like finishing the new Banting Memorial high school, rebuilding Collingwood Collegiate Institute, and ensuring new elementary schools are built across the riding.

The allocation should be based on need, and not politics.

Keith Nunn, NDP: Doug Ford cut from Education before the pandemic, and his 2021 budget cut $800 million from schools.

The NDP will lower class sizes, hire 20,000 more teachers and education workers, give kids the special education and emotional supports they need now more than ever, and finally address the repairs our schools need.

The NDP will give education workers and teachers the respect they deserve, including scrapping Doug Ford’s low-wage policy, Bill 124.

Simcoe County needs the NDP because an NDP government will overhaul the education funding formula starting with a comprehensive public review to be completed within one year. We will base special education funding on actual needs, not overall populations, with timely needs assessments.