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PRIORITIES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

A Brief to the Ministry of Education from the BC Teachers’ Federation, August 2017 

Education Funding: Public Funding of Private Schools

The issue

The BCTF is opposed to public funding of private schools. The opposition is not to parents having the right to send their children to private schools, but to the public funding of these schools. The opposition is particularly strong in opposing public funding for elite private schools.

The BCTF is also opposed to the tax credits that are provided for private schools, based on claims of supervision of students outside of class time being childcare for tax purposes.

Background

Over the past decade, public funding for independent schools has grown at a much faster rate than funding of public schools.

While some of that increase has reflected additional students, much of it was based on government policy decisions:

A significant increase in numbers of students in independent schools is in Distributed Learning (DL) programs. Two schools have particularly increased enrolments—Self Design and Heritage Christian.

Together they have DL enrolment that is two-thirds of the enrollment in the more than fifty public school district DL schools.

Ministry funding for these Distributed Learning private schools was quietly raised from 50% of that of public schools to 63%, further contributing to the rapid increase in funding for independent schools.

The BC Liberal government also changed rules to allow for students with special needs in funded categories to be fully funded in independent schools. These private schools have more flexibility to provide portions of the funding for parents to purchase services for their children. Public schools have more students with special needs in non-funded categories, so have less capacity to offer the services that should be present for all students with special needs.

Inclusion BC has called for adequate funding for public schools to provide support required for students with special needs so that parents do not feel they have to put their children in private DL schools to get service.

Key recommendations

Recommendation 1

That public funding for private schools be eliminated.

Recommendation 2

That the provincial government eliminate tax credits for private/independent fees.

Recommendation 3

The that provincial government end the practice of exempting private/independent school facilities and auxiliary lands from property tax.

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