Private schools save the government money
Your recent correspondent W. Hatton (Citizen, Jan. 23), who decries public funding for independent schools, has presented a less than complete story including a significant inaccuracy.
The statement that the past B.C. Liberal government introduced the practice of funding to independent schools is incorrect. The B.C. government has provided partial funding to independent schools since 1977. Today, some independent schools receive funding between 35 to 50 per cent of their local school district’s per-student operating grants.
Independent schools are divided into four funding levels. Group 1 schools employ B.C.-certified teachers, have educational programs consistent with ministerial orders and provide programs that meet the learning outcomes of the B.C. curriculum. They receive 50 per cent of the local school district’s per-student operating grant. Group 2 schools meet the same requirements as Group 1 schools but are typically university preparatory schools with higher per-student operating costs. They receive a smaller subsidy of 35 per cent. Group 3 schools, which are not required to meet the Group 1 requirements, and Group 4 schools, which cater mainly to non-provincial students, receive no funding.
Independent schools receive no funding or support for capital spending such as the construction and maintenance of facilities. (These additional costs are borne by the families who send their children to independent schools and the occasional alumni donations.)
The 2018 education provincial budget, over three years, shows $2.05 billion budgeted. If funding is withdrawn from independent schools, many will close. The consequence would be a large number of some 80,000 students presently at independent schools would have to be absorbed by the public schools at an estimated cost of $800 million, considerably costlier than the approximate $350 million currently received by eligible independent schools.
The current B.C. government is very conscious of this economic reality.