Public Funding For Private Schools
by Jean-Claude Levesque, Task Force on Privatization
The first privately run school in British Columbia was founded in 1858. Until 1977, independent schools were unregulated and received no grants. However, these same schools, from 1950 on, were able to receive government-approved textbooks free of charge. It was not until after 1977 that partial funding was granted to those schools that qualified. In 1989, the Independent School Act came into being and required the regulation of all independent schools either funded or not funded.
There are two types of private schools that are funded by the government. Both types of schools meet the same requirements as those expected in a public school system. The difference is that Group 1 schools have a per-student operating cost similar to a local public school district, whereas Group 2 schools have a per-student operating cost that exceeds that of a local public school district. Group 1 schools receive 50 percent of the cost per student in public school districts while Group 2 schools receive 35 percent. In addition to this, both Group 1 and Group 2 schools receive a special education grant for qualifying students at a rate of 50 percent of the amount granted to public schools for each level of need.
As of January 2004 there were approximately 242 Group 1 schools with a student population of 47,653 and approximately 62 Group 2 schools with a student population of 12,553. These figures were taken from the Ministry's web site.
Total Funding for Private Schools
$156 million was given to 304 Group 1 and 2 schools as well as $7 million in special education grants.