In 2019/20, Ontario has experienced changes in the funding its public education system. Ontario’s Grants for Students Needs (GSN) increased slightly from $24.5 billion to $24.66 billion dollars but with significant changes in funding allocation.
Public Foundation Grant
In the Grants for Students Needs (GSN) budget, the biggest loses have been in the Public Foundation Grant which supports the salaries of teachers, early childhood educators, and other education workers. In 2019-20, the Public Foundation Grant was 5.3% lower than the 2018-19 GSN by $633 million dollars.
Learning Opportunities Grant
As part of the Learning Opportunities Grant, the Local Priorities Fund has been spent “to address a range of priorities including more special education staffing to support children in need, ‘at-risk’ students, and adult education.” The loss of this fund resulted in the loss of “about 875 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers and about 1,600 to 1,830 FTE education workers.”
Special Education Grant
As a Special Education teacher, I am always concerned about the funding status of the Special Education Grant. Special Education funding increased by almost 3% going from $3.01 to $3.10 billion dollars. The Special Education per Pupil Amount (SEPPA) increased from $1.54 to $1.57 billion dollars. Areas of increase include the Special Equipment Amount up 12.6% from $106.6 to $120.0 million dollars. The Differentiated Special Education Needs Amount (DSENA/previously High Needs Amount) went up by 0.9% from $1.13 to $1.14 million dollars. These increased look promising but given inflation, the special education funding is just keep up. Also it is important to note that recent funding is still not addressing the increased needs of special education students in classrooms across Ontario.
Where did the lost funds go?
In 2019/20, the cuts outlined above have been used to fund the “Teacher Job Protection Funding” of $690 million dollars. “In 2019-20, the ministry is introducing a new teacher job protection funding allocation. Funding is being provided for up to four years to protect classroom teachers impacted by the proposed changes to class size and e-learning, allowing school boards to phase in these proposed changes.”
Below is my analysis of Ontario’s Grants for Students Needs between 2015-16 and 2019-20. All Grant for Students Needs data can be downloaded at the 2019/20 Education Funding, Previous Years.
Deb Weston, PhD