Enrolment is up 35 per cent at English public schools in Halton, yet trustees say they’re grossly underfunded.
So much so, it’s the lowest in the province, according to the Halton District School Board (HDSB).
An infographic released by the HDSB shows neighbouring boards, some of which are similar in size and demographics, receive higher funding from the province. The HDSB received $1,290 less per student (nearly 11 per cent less) than the provincial average of $12,000, according to the board.
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With 64,000 students, it works out to more than an $82 million funding shortfall for the 2017-2018 school year.
“With program cuts and the creation of tight, balanced budgets we make it work, but I know we could be doing so much more for our students if we had the $82 million that would bring our board in line with the average per pupil funding in Ontario,” said HDSB board of trustees chairperson Andréa Grebenc.
Trustees “have long been advocating for clarity and transparency regarding the funding formula and have received neither.”
The HDSB is currently the lowest funded Ontario English public school board on a per pupil basis, according to the board.
The province’s Ministry of Education calculates funding for boards for the upcoming school year based on data such as enrolment figures.
Trustees “understand that northern and rural boards require additional funding for their unique circumstances and are not suggesting that the funding for those boards be adjusted,” said Grebenc.
“We just do not understand our board’s consistent and growing funding lag from the average provincial per pupil funding over the past 10 years that has essentially kept hundreds of millions of dollars from our classrooms and student supports without explanation from the provincial government.”
Funding is also linked to school bus driver shortages in the region, according to the board, and special education.
The HDSB spends more on special education than is allocated through the Ministry of Education’s specific funding model.
There’s been a loss of more than $20 million dollars in special education funding since the model changed in the 2014-2015 school year, despite what it calls the growth of the number of students requiring support for special needs locally.
Trustees are asking the community to reach out to their MPP “to help advocate on behalf of the students of Halton.”
Screenshots courtesy of Halton District School Board