A funding formula that works for kids

Ontario’s education funding formula is based on a model introduced two decades ago that was designed to reduce overall expenditure for public schools. It needs to be fully reviewed and reformed.


Ontario’s education funding formula needs to be fully reviewed and reformed. It is based on a model introduced two decades ago that was designed to reduce overall expenditure for public schools. While the current government has increased education funding since taking office in 2003 by introducing important initiatives such as primary class size caps and full-day Kindergarten, it has failed to address some of the original cuts imposed by the predecessor government. The problems of the 1998 funding model that haven’t been adequately addressed include: funding for English and French as second language programming; funding for basic school level facilities and services such as libraries, guidance, music, art and physical education; funding to support local priorities; and funding for school operations and maintenance. The latter issue received considerable attention recently and was the subject of a research report that documents a backlog in maintenance and repairs of school facilities amounting to $15.9 billion.

ETFO members’ identification of increasing incidence of classroom violence has also focused on the need for smaller classes in Kindergarten and grades 4 to 8, as well as more student supports on the part of special education resource teachers, educational assistants and paraprofessionals such as behavioural therapists, psychologists, speech-language pathologists and child and youth workers. Ontario’s education funding model needs to reflect the broad range of supports students need to be successful learners.

The last comprehensive review of the Ontario education funding formula was by the Education Equality Task Force headed by Dr. Mordechai Rozanski in 2002. In its 2007 election platform, the Ontario Liberal Party committed to reviewing the education funding formula by 2010. That review has yet to take place. ETFO commissioned an analysis of education funding and released the findings in 2017. A number of other education organizations have come forward to join ETFO in calling for a full external review of the funding formula. In her 2017 Annual Report, Ontario’s auditor general also concludes that the funding benchmarks in the funding formula are out of date and that there should be a full external review of education funding. The 2018 ETFO poll indicates that 76 per cent of Ontarians believe it’s time for an external review of the education funding formula.

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Recommendations
  • Establish an independent, external review of Ontario’s education funding formula that will provide recommendations on what is required to update the formula so it reflects actual student needs.

Sources

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Education Quality and Accountability Office (2017). 2016–2017 Annual Report. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.

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