The School District 72 board of education is working on a response to the province’s recommendations for funding formula changes. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

School trustees consider future funding formula changes

Campbell River district is working on a response to provincial recommendations

The Campbell River school district, like others across the province, will have to wait to find out how the provincial government will change how schools are funded.

Superintendent Jeremy Morrow told local school trustees in his report at the beginning of the Jan. 15 meeting that the way schools are funded next year will be “very similar” to the way they are for this year.

At the meeting, secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick discussed a letter from Education Minister Rob Fleming with the board. This was a response to correspondence the board had sent about the province’s K-12 funding formula review. In his letter, Minister Fleming informed the district that the province is not making any changes to the funding model, at least for the 2019/2020 school year.

“The funding formula model change has been deferred,” Patrick told trustees.

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The ministry had engaged a panel to conduct a review of the ministry’s K-12 funding model and bring forward recommendations with the intent of creating a system that is responsive, equitable, stable and predictable, flexible, transparent and accountable.

Fleming’s letter stated the ministry has delayed the implementation of any funding changes to allow stakeholders in the education system to provide views and evaluate what the report’s recommended changes might mean to districts.

“This ministry has changed this to allow for feedback,” Patrick said.

The review panel released its final report on Dec. 19, 2018. It contained 22 recommendations. These are arranged into over-arching themes of equity of educational opportunity, accountability and financial management.

“It’s just the recommendation report,” Patrick added. “It’s not the model…. It will be important for our district to get the model as early as possible so we can see what impact it has.”

Chair Richard Franklin said he had gone through the report and found most of the recommendations to be “quite reasonable” on the whole.

“It did seem that there will be some winners and some losers,” he added.

Trustee John Kerr cited funding for special needs children as a specific area of concern. He referred to the “prevalence” model used in Ontario, which sets out funding based on the assumption that special needs students make a particular percentage of the total student population. The idea is to create a formula that requires less administrative work.

Kerr referred to criticisms in Ontario of the prevalence approach, suggesting the actual requirements for special needs students are more complex and that funding may not then reflect a district’s actual needs.

“Our funding a lot of the time is needs-based,” he said.

The trustees and staff will be discussing the recommendations at a future in camera meeting.