Ontario announces this year’s funding for school boards
April 18, 2017
Negotiations with teachers’ federations, trustees’ associations and education workers’ unions have resulted in a number of increases to education funding this year.
Teaching and non-teaching staff (not including principals, vice-principals or directors of education) will receive 1.5% salary increases for a total of $257.2 million. The federations and unions also received a one-time payment for 2017-18 for professional development. The payment is the equivalent of a .5% increase ($85.7 million). Pending ratification, contracts will be extended until August 31, 2019.
Full day kindergarten class size cap
School boards will still be required to have an overall average of 26 students per class in full-day kindergarten (FDK), but boards will now be funded based on an average of 25.75. This will result in a funding increase of approximately $16.7 million to cover the costs of a new cap on FDK classes. A new regulation will require that at least 90% of FDK classes have 30 or fewer students. Up to 10% of classes can have as many as 32 students, but only if:
- There is a lack of space
- The 30 student cap would affect special programs such as French Immersion
- The cap would result in more kindergarten/grade 1 split classes
This year’s funding also stipulates that school boards must hire an Early Childhood Educator for all FDK classes in the same school and same track, even if a class has less than 16 students, as long as there is another class with more than 30 students.
Reducing class sizes in grades 4-8
The province will provide $39.6 million in 2017-18 to begin to reduce class sizes in grades 4 to 8. Over the next five years, the overall class size average per board will be reduced from the current 25, to 24.5. While this may seem like a small reduction, it will come with increased funding to boards, to ensure that there are fewer very large classes in grades 4 to 8. The province will continue to slowly increase funding so that in five years, provincial funding will cover the costs of board class size averages of 22.85 for students in these grades.
Funding for local priorities
Negotiations also resulted in the establishment of a “Local Priorities Fund” of $218.9 million. This funding is intended to cover the costs of local priorities such as special education staffing (for teachers and educational assistants) and adult education. The Ministry announcement states that “Actual staffing will vary depending on specific agreements, local discussions and compensation specific to each board, as well as job security provisions, staffing reductions related to declining enrolment and other exceptions.”
The province will now “envelope” $25.3 million funding for Indigenous Education, which means that – unlike most other funding areas – boards may not use the funding to cover any costs outside of Indigenous education. Boards will also continue to be required to spend at least $84,000 on a dedicated Indigenous Education Lead, whose full-time job must be focused only on Indigenous education.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction and school renewal
Included in the province’s $1 Billion funding for school renewal, is a new $200 million initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from school buildings and board offices. Eligible expenditures include things like energy efficient lighting systems, new HVAC systems and other building components that will make older elementary schools, secondary schools and administrative buildings more energy efficient.
Cuts to funding for “underutilized” schools
This is the last year of a three-year phase-in that reduced “top-up” funding for schools that are below capacity.
Changes to special education funding
This is the final year of a phased-in special education grant introduced in 2014/15, intended to make the funding more responsive to boards’ and students’ needs.
You can read the briefing notes on this year’s funding, here.