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Some Oxygen for the Italian Language in Catholic Schools

Some Oxygen for the Italian Language in Catholic Schools

Some Oxygen for the Italian Language in Catholic Schools

TORONTO – The YCDSB seems to have struck a truce on the issue of International language studies – the “Extended Day” language program.

Twenty-three schools that offered Italian language classes to 8,500 children in elementary schools were in danger of losing this service. The Staff and [some] Trustees threatened to cut the Extended Day Program as part of its effort to reduce the Board fiscal deficit.

The Board’s total budget approved this year was $660.9 million. The ED Program, already financed in part by Centro Scuola (a surrogate for the Italian government on language instruction in Canada) costs the Board approximately $295,000 per year. It also receives a subsidy from the Provincial government.

In May – June, of this year, the Board, perhaps emboldened by the apparent fervour of Trustee Ferlisi to eliminate the program, issued an ultimatum.

If the community wants, they can pay for it, they seemed to say. They passed a motion that in effect outlined a deadline for the community to provide $1,000,000 in guarantees for the next four year of the program would end.

A Banker/parent, a political aspirant and Diplomats from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal seemed to “rally” to satisfy the “pay or else” demands of the Board and Trustees Ferlisi and Ciaravella in particular.

Centro Scuola presented a “comfort letter” – a “guarantee” – to this effect. It offered up to $500,000 per year to cover the costs of the program.

The letter (reprinted on this page) was presented as an Agenda item, along with a Report by the Director on the issue, and accepted by the Board.

In the interim, the government of Ontario had been asked to consider including International Languages Study as part of the Curriculum. That consideration may now be “off the table”.

The Consul General when contacted on the matter by email offered the following: Centro Scuola receives $200,000 from Italian authorities for transfer to YCDSB; the director will in all likelihood taken out a line of credit to cover the difference until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can allocate the balance.

YCDSB and Centro Scuola’s Director Domenico Servello, contacted by Corriere Canadese, confirmed that the Program will continue thanks to additional funds provided by Centro Scuola.

(Friday 30 September 2016)

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