More great news out of the province today! One of the things we hear about a lot is the system by which students with special needs are funded. This press release indicates that increased funding is on the way, and a new system for accessing those funds is on the horizon. MTS president Norm Gould is quoted in the release.

PROVINCE TO INCREASE SUPPORTS FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS BY $1.7 MILLION, MODERNIZE FUNDING MODEL

Changes Would Eliminate Applications, Allow Teachers More Time To Work Directly with Students: Minister Allum

The Manitoba government is increasing funding for students with special needs students to $75.5 million and making it easier for these students to get the supports they require by eliminating applications as recommended by the Task Force on Special Needs Education, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced today.

“We want students with special needs to get the supports they need without having to make their parents and educators go through a lengthy and stressful application process,” said Minister Allum. “I want to personally thank the parents, advocates and teachers who served on this task force for their hard work that will result in a new funding model that will better help students.”

The minister added the province will implement all the recommendations of the Task Force on Special Needs Education and that developing a model that includes eliminating applications will give special needs teachers and clinicians more time to focus on the classroom, not paperwork.

“Teachers want to spend more time working with students,” said Norm Gould, president, Manitoba Teachers’ Society. “This initiative will give principals, specialists, resource teachers and classroom teachers the time to do just that. Our kids need more supports, not less.”

The minister noted the Louis Riel School Division will pilot a new process for allocating special needs resources in some of its schools starting in fall 2016, working in collaboration with the province, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the Louis Riel Teachers’ Association. He added other divisions could voluntarily implement the new funding model the following year, with full implementation in place by fall 2018. The lessons learned from the Louis Riel pilot will assist other school divisions to make a smoother transition to the new approach, the minister said.

“This initiative will eliminate the current time-consuming, deficit-focused and student-specific application process, and free up time for our staff to work with our kids, which is what they do best,” said Duane Brothers, superintendent, Louis Riel School Division.

Minister Allum also announced $10 million in new capital supports for schools to build life-skills classrooms for students with special needs and to improve accessibility in schools.

“We are making targeted investments in our schools so that every student gets the supports they need to succeed,” Minister Allum said. “By investing in programming and making sure schools have the resources and facilities they need, students with special needs will have more supports than ever.”