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Backgrounder: Education

The Education budget will increase from $223.9 million in 2004 to $226.3 in 2005.

Program Highlights 2004-2005
The Department of Education oversees and provides funding to the Kindergarten, the 1 - 12
system, post-secondary institutions and lifelong learning.

In 2004-2005, the department added teachers and reduced class sizes, particularly in the primary grades. Average class sizes were:
  • Grades 1 to 3: 19.1
  • Grades 4 to 6: 21.7
  • Grades 7 to 9: 24.8

    Over 600 computers were added to classrooms and labs. New enhancements to the data network now enable schools to access internet information, on average, 33 times faster than before.
    The Bluefield High School expansion was officially opened in August 2004. During the first phase of construction in 2000, eight new classrooms and an administrative area were added at a cost of $2 million. The latest $6 million phase includes new science labs, music and art rooms, an updated gymnasium, career exploration and trades training facilities. The $6 million addition and renovation of Summerside Intermediate School, officially opened in December, offers many similar features.

    The Active Healthy School Communities Strategy was piloted in six school communities. Department and school board staff worked closely with the Healthy Eating Alliance to develop new school nutrition policies and a website that provides parents, teachers and students with information on healthy eating. Along with British Columbia, PEI was the lead province in the recent establishment of a new Pan-Canadian School Health Consortium.

  • Investments were made in early literacy programs such as the Reading Recovery program which dramatically improves a child's ability to read by the end of grade one. This year, eight more teachers were trained in Reading Recovery and an additional teacher-leader was trained.

    Approximately 600 students participated in summer tutoring programs. Teachers were trained in best practices in teaching literacy. A new literacy initiative was implemented to help intermediate students improve reading comprehension in math, science, social studies and language arts. This will now be used as a prototype for online professional development for teachers in Atlantic Canada.

    Last year, UPEI and Holland College each received additional operating grants of $750,000. Government continued to support the growth and development of UPEI through its ongoing commitment of $25 million to the Building a Legacy campaign.

    Government provided direct financial assistance of $7.9 million to 2,250 students through the PEI Student Loan program. This represents an increase of 36 per cent over the previous year.

    Investments
    $2.5 million will be made available for a new school for French first language students in West Prince.

    UPEI will receive increased operating funding of $1 million this fiscal year to address rising enrolments and increased operating costs. Holland College will receive an additional $500,000.

    In February, Premier Binns named a task force to recommend ways to improve student achievement in Prince Edward Island. The task force will look at how students are achieving and how the education system is performing. They will recommend actions to ensure that students are getting the best education possible to the Minister of Education by September 30, 2005. The work of the task force will be complemented by a new school improvement planning program that will provide timely and reliable data to improve accountability for education outcomes and to improve student achievement.

    Government will work with partners this year to develop a strategy to improve literacy and learning in the province.

    Cost savings
    Although Government remains committed to the new Instructional Staffing Model, it cannot make the progress it wanted, to further implement the model this fiscal year. Government remains committed to achieving the targets of the model. The present teacher complement will be reduced in 2005-2006 in accordance with declining enrolments. The resulting student-teacher ratio will not change from the ratio achieved in the 2004-2005 school year. Other cost savings will be realized through reductions of $615,000 in administrative services and $200,000 in materials and program resources.

    Contact:
    Jean Doherty
    Department of Education
    902 368 6449

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