School Funding - A Guide for Parents

The Funding Formula

School boards are funded through Ontario's "funding formula." The ministry allocates funding to each board using a formula that's based on student enrolment and the unique needs of the students in each board. The number of schools, their distribution and their physical condition are also factors.

Boards use this money to make the local decisions needed to educate their students. They do this by funding and staffing schools, designing programs to meet the needs of their students and fixing, maintaining and building schools.

How your school is funded

Each year your school board decides how much money to give your local school. The school then spends this money according to the plans and priorities of the school board and the province. For example, since schools, school boards and the government are concentrating on improving student achievement, schools will spend money to support that goal. The school also considers its improvement plan developed by the principal and the school community.

Schools also have some choices in the way they spend money. For example, a group of schools might decide to pool their resources to fund a music program. One school might buy musical instruments, another might hire a local musician to visit the schools, and so on. It is important that schools, like school boards, can make these choices so that they can meet the needs of students in their communities.

Funding grants

The various grants in the education funding formula fall into three broad categories:

  1. Basic or "foundation" funding that every board receives for general costs, such as staff salaries, textbooks, classroom computers and other supplies.
  2. Funds to help boards meet the unique needs of their students. English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) programs, special education classes and funding for remote or rural schools are just a few examples.
  3. Funds that are used to build new schools, and to repair and maintain existing schools.

This funding is then used by the school board to develop its budget for the school year.

According to the Education Act, school boards must submit balanced budgets. A balanced budget simply means that the amount of money that a board expects to spend is equal to, or less than, the amount of money it receives from the government.


Where does funding come from?

School boards receive money in two ways. First, some of the property taxes collected in your community go to your local school board. Second, the province tops up this amount to bring the total for each board up to the amount set out by the funding formula.