Funding for education in Ontario is driven by a provincial funding formula. Each year – usually in March – the Ministry of Education allocates funding to school boards through a series of formulae contained in the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs)and the Priorities and Partnerships Fund.
The Ministry of Education has requested feedback on education funding for the 2021-22 school year.
People for Education has a number of recommendations:
Update demographic data to fund supports for students with greater needs
Approximately 14% of total funding in the GSNs is dependent on census data. But the province is currently using data from the 2006 Census. This outdated data has an impact on funding to support students with special needs and students who may struggle in school. For example, $373.4 million in the Learning Opportunities Grant and $795 million in funding for Special Education is currently based on 2006 demographic data. This funding can be used for programs and resources such as special education teachers and educational assistants, smaller class sizes, breakfast programs, guidance counsellors, homework clubs, and support staff.
People for Education recommends the province use data from the 2016 census to ensure funding for students with greater needs is both adequate and reflects the realities of school boards’ current populations.
Reduce class sizes for mandatory online learning
As of the fall of 2020, high school students will be required to take two online classes to graduate. Class sizes for this mandatory e-learning will be funded at a rate of 30 students for every one teacher, significantly higher than in-person classes. An examination of the research has shown that to be effective, online learning requires as much focus on student engagement, similar time for individual attention, and equal amounts of evaluation and assessment as in-person learning.
People for Education recommends allocating funding for online learning at an average class size of 23 – the same as for in-person learning.