B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming. (Hansard TV)

B.C. school district funding changes delayed until after next year

Per-pupil formula leaves gaps for special needs, Indigenous students

The B.C. government is taking another year to review its school funding formula to provide additional assistance for Indigenous students, those with identified special needs and rural and remote school districts.

Regional working groups will be established in January to identify needs, Education Minister Rob Fleming said Wednesday. They are to report back by the fall of 2019, but there will be no change to the formula for the 2019-20 school year.

The groups will include teachers, parents, administrators, support staff, dealing with recommendations that include a new way of financing school districts that have declining enrolment.

“We want to make sure all students are getting the supports they need, no matter where they live,” Fleming said.

The review committee made 22 recommendations earlier this year, including a formula to take into account long distances and winter weather for school districts. For the current year, 15 districts saw enrolment declines, while the rest had small increases.

The province increased its education budget by $591 million in the current year, much of it to pay for the addition of more than 3,500 additional teachers to meet court-ordered class size and special needs support levels. The education budget for 2018-19 is $6.6 billion.

As of September, there were an increase of 5,564 students in total B.C. public school enrolment compared to last year, bringing the total to nearly 560,000. The highest growth districts are Surrey (up 1,152 students), Central Okanagan (up 596), Greater Victoria (up 384), Sooke (up 373) and Abbotsford (up 321).


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