Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Another funding problem arising from the Teachers' strike

The government has already said they want the money back from the school districts for the first three weeks of the school year but I suspect that will rivaled in impact on finances from another factor, the loss of students to independent schools.   It seems a lot of parents chose to take their kids out of the public system and enrolled them in independent schools this year.  My best guess is that this will result in a loss of $30,000,000 to $60,000,000 in funding for public schools this year.

All school districts are funded based on total enrollment in the schools, if that number is down the funding for the school district will be down.   For many years now the enrollment in public schools has been falling while at the same time rising for independent schools.   Total enrollment in all schools should be about 635,000 this year of which I would have expected about 87.7% to be in public schools but I suspect the strike has impacted this.

I suspect that the move to independent schools will have been done by parents who have already been considering and the strike just pushed them over the edge.   So how many will that likely have been?My best guess is that 1-2% of public school students are likely to have shifted to independent schools.   This is about 5,000 to 10,000 and would be the biggest increase in enrollment for independent schools in any one year.  It will be hard to accurately quantify the drop in students because there are many factors and trends in school enrollment that impact the numbers.

 I think the 10,000 number is likely too high and something around 6,000 is the ballpark we are talking about.   The amount of money a district gets for each student is different because is based on many factors so we have use a provincial estimate and $7,000 per student is a good starting point.  Using these numbers gives us a value of $42,000,000 - which is only a ballpark to understand the possible impact.

Adding this on top of the other costs and lost funding for the school districts will cause more pain for the public education system.

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