As the next phase of renewing the Province's education funding model, B.C.'s Minister of Education is asking parents, teachers, support staff, school administrators and others to help shape the path forward to make education funding work better for students in the classroom.
This follows release of the final report from the independent review panel on education funding.
Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, said the panel's report has identified challenges with the current education funding model, which is resulting in inequities in education services and programs, especially for students with special needs and vulnerable students. In Phase 2, the B.C. government's education partners will form working groups to provide advice on how to move forward on the key themes raised in the report.
"We want to make sure all students are getting the supports they need no matter where they live. I want to thank the panel for helping define the challenges and identify paths forward," said Fleming. "Now it's up to all of us who care about students to deliver solutions. Given the scope of the recommendations, we now need to work with our partners to better understand the benefits for students, parents, educators and school districts. It's critical we get this right for our kids."
The working groups will be formed in January 2019 to engage further on the key areas and themes identified in the report: inclusive education, distributed learning, adult education, financial management, accountability.
The working groups will provide advice to the minister on how to best move forward on the recommendations in order to make the funding model work better for students. They will assess the implications of the recommendations made by the panel and look at how the ministry can maximize dollars invested in the classroom to improve services, drive better outcomes and make sure rural and remote districts, as well as the fast-growing districts, get the resources they need.
The working groups will include representation by all education partners including teachers, parents, school administrators, support staff, trustees, superintendents, the First Nations Education Steering Committee and inclusive education groups. The groups will report back in the fall of 2019. No changes will be made to the existing funding model for the 2019-20 school year.
"The challenge to us all is to deliver a better funding model that allows for all classrooms across British Columbia to be the best they can be for the individual learning needs of every student," said Fleming, who adds the current funding model was imposed in 2002, with no consultation.
Reviewing the K-12 education funding model, with a view to ensuring equitable access for students, is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Chris Trumpy, chair of the independent review panel -
"This review has been an educational process for the panel and we would like to thank all of those participants that provided feedback. Our recommendations reflect what we heard from Boards of Education, school district staff, partner groups and individuals about what's not working with the current funding system and what needs to change. The report provides a path forward for government to improve chances for all students, support greater accountability for how resources are used and strengthen the overall management of the K-12 public education system."
Paul Faoro, president, CUPE BC -
"We are very pleased the education minister followed through on an election commitment to review the current funding model and doing so with input from all stakeholders. The review on education funding was desperately needed, especially since the last review was completed 16 years ago. Our union looks forward to participating on the working groups in the coming months to develop a path forward to provide a better, stable and sustainable school system for students and our 31,000 members in British Columbia."
Glen Hansman, president, BC Teachers' Federation -
"Teachers across B.C. have been eagerly waiting for the education funding model review report. I am thankful to the minister for outlining the next phase that allows for more consultation and collaboration. The entire education community needs to have an informed conversation about these recommendations, and I welcome the opportunity to do so over the coming year. I hope that the process will lead to changes that enhance both services to students and teachers' working conditions, regardless of where they live and work in our province."
Andrea Sinclair, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils -
"Parents have long been asking for greater equity in educational programs and services for all students, and greater accountability for how resources are used towards improving student outcomes. We are pleased to see such a strong focus on equity and accountability in this report. These were key elements of our submission to the panel and reflect what parents are seeking. This is a positive first step toward the creation of a new funding model that puts students' needs first and foremost."
Karla Verschoor, executive director, Inclusion BC -
"Inclusion BC was encouraged to see the new funding model recommendations framed through an equity lens with an emphasis on accountability and transparency. We look forward to continuing our work with the Ministry of Education to ensure that any new funding model and inclusive education policies are woven together to produce better outcomes for all students. Inclusion BC will continue to advocate for strong, publicly funded schools, with educators and parents who are well-equipped to implement best practices in inclusive education and to work collaboratively to support quality learning for all students."
Gordon Swan, president, B.C. School Trustees Association -
"The B.C. School Trustees Association is appreciative that the provincial government upheld the commitment to review the public education funding model and release the funding model review panel report. We look forward to further consultation with government and our membership regarding how best to proceed towards modernizing the current funding model."
Sonia Furstenau, Green Party caucus spokesperson for education, and MLA for Cowichan Valley -
"It is essential that we better facilitate equitable and accessible education for all B.C. students, regardless of their diverse abilities or geographic locations. Our caucus is pleased that this report is available for further consultation and review, and we look forward to engaging with government and stakeholders to produce the best possible education outcomes for students."
- The K-12 public education system in B.C. serves nearly 560,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students.
- They are supported through over $5.7 billion in operating funding provided for school districts by the Ministry of Education.
- Enrolment has increased by more than 26,000 FTE students in the last four years and is projected to grow by another 15,000 over the next three years.
- In February 2018, the Minister of Education appointed an independent review panel to look at the current funding model and to move B.C.'s public-school system to a better, stable and sustainable model.
- The panel met with all 60 school districts and heard from over 350 education stakeholders. The final report makes 22 recommendations for a new funding system.
- In October 2018, the Minister of Education appointed an implementation advisory committee comprised of education experts, to provide advice and help guide government in the next steps of the funding model review.
A backgrounder follows.