CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF ONTARIO’S SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION SYSTEM
Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in Canada and in the world where Catholic schools are fully funded by the government. Our unique, four-pillar framework for public education in this province and the inherent choice this framework provides to parents has contributed to the recognition of Ontario’s education system one of the most successful in the world.
Our approximately 1400 schools across the province serve the needs and aspirations of 2.3 million Catholic school ratepayers and educate approximately 550,000 students each year. We are without question part of the fabric of this province.
It is important to note that all three major political parties in this province are on record as supporting Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools.
THE AMALGAMATION COST SAVINGS MYTH
- Those who advocate for the elimination of Catholic school boards rarely mention the complication, the high cost and chaos that would affect all students, parents, teachers and communities.
- Such chaos would be unjustified as there would be little to no savings realized by the elimination of Catholic schools.
- One school system advocates assert that merging Ontario’s education systems will save money. Education funding is “per-pupil” based – so unless the number of students changed, there would be no significant savings to be realized through a merger. Other than causing massive disruption and chaos, a merger of school systems in Ontario would not save money.
- We only have to look at our experience with amalgamation in this sector to see that amalgamation does not realize the cost savings proposed.
- Between 1998 and 2001 the cost of amalgamation was $1.1 Billion.
- Over that four-year time span, the Ministry spent $23M on infrastructure alone to support amalgamation – this was the Education Improvement Commission (EIC)
- It is important to take a realistic look at proposed savings with respect to staffing under an amalgamated model.
- Under the current funding model, staffing is based on a per pupil calculation.
- We would still need the same number of teachers and the same amount of support staff in an amalgamated model. Even theoretical savings in administration are dubious – the result would be enormous jurisdictions, which would necessitate divisions and subdivisions to ensure families do not lose access.
- Other costs associated with amalgamation include those associated with re-assigning thousands of students and employees, redrawing district maps, transferring capital commitments, consolidating offices, reconciling contracts, etc.
- Beyond the price tag, trying to amalgamate would create havoc for students – and not just those currently in Catholic schools. Many families would experience disruption. Even students who don’t switch schools would face tremendous upheaval – teachers moving, friends and classmates gone, massive changes in their day-today routines.
CLAIMS OF UNDERUTILIZATION
Underutilization of facilities does not reflect a need for amalgamation of systems.
Issues regarding capacity are best addressed within school boards. Simply folding Catholic schools into the public system would not solve the problem. The coordination of efforts and policies to better utilize school assets in the community are already under way. Communities would be better served by developing efforts rather than any rash decision to destroy Ontario’s education system.
THE CURRENT EFFICIENCY OF ONTARIO’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
- The funding model for education in Ontario is a pressure driven model that compels efficiencies in school boards. This is demonstrated by existing:
- transportation consortia
- purchasing consortia
- curriculum co-operatives
- Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) representing
- All four trustees’ associations and school systems.
- Ontario’s four publicly funded school systems work together to meet the diverse needs of Ontarians while providing quality education to students in all four systems. Our efforts should be focused on strengthening our unique system of education and building upon that tradition of cooperation.
REFLECTING THE DIVERSITY OF ONTARIO
The students and families served by Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the communities in which they are located.
In Ottawa, there’s a less than one per cent difference between the Catholic and public boards in the number of students born outside of Canada (11 per cent vs. 12 per cent), and a less than two per cent difference in the number of high school students who speak languages other than English at home (21 per cent vs. 23 per cent).
In Waterloo high schools, more Catholic board students than public board students speak languages other than English at home.
In Toronto, more elementary grade students in the Catholic board were born outside of Canada than is the case in the public board.