Ontario well served by 4 publicly funded systems
By Patrick J. Daly
I am responding to the comment article in the Hamilton Spectator [Waterloo Record] claiming that “One publicly funded system will cost less, save schools.” Particularly at a time when “fake news” is garnering much attention, I am compelled to correct the numerous intentional or otherwise inaccurate statements in the article.
Although he may be unaware or unwilling to accept it, the writer knows that Catholic Schools in Ontario serve populations that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the communities in which they are located. Like our Public School counterparts, Catholic School Boards fully comply with all Provincial Legislative/Regulations including Section 42 of the Education Act and requirements of Bill 13 with regard to welcoming and inclusive school communities.
As a former Public School educator, the writer knows that Catholic School Boards are directly and/or indirectly funded by Catholic (separate) school supporters. As a result of reforms made to Education funding in 1997 the revenue school boards receive through local property taxation in no way reflects the share of taxes supporters of each system pay. He further knows that the most significant factor in the revenue school boards receive is student enrolment. Other than causing massive disruption and chaos moving students from one system to another would not save money.
He further knows that in addition to enrolment, the education funding formula is built on a number of specific grants which are intended to recognize local circumstances including student and community demographics. As a result, rather than receiving $1,500.00 to $3,000.00 more per pupil, Catholic School Boards receive their fair share as determined by the funding formula. For example, and as calculated using 2017-2018 Ministry of Education GSN Operating Allocation, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board will receive $345.15 per pupil less than the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board; the Toronto Catholic District School Board will receive $226.34 less than the Toronto District School Board and; the Halton Catholic District School Board will receive $191.17 less than the Halton District School Board.
Having seen a number of poll results over the years, the numbers the writer cites in no way reflect reality. The citizens of Ontario know and appreciate that our province’s education system is recognized as one of the best in the world. Publicly funded Catholic Schools have formed an integral part of this system and the fabric of Ontario for well over 175 years. Their graduates, like those in the other school systems, have helped shape the wonderful province and country we live in today. As a former leader in an organization whose goal it is to have one union for all educational workers in Ontario, the writer refuses or fails to recognize the serious harm the creation of a monopoly would cause to the quality of education in our province. Parents and the people of Ontario know that rather than save money, municipal and school board amalgamation in the past has increased costs dramatically.
The four publicly funded school systems work together so as to improve the quality of education for all children. That spirit of co-operation and the structure of education in Ontario are to be celebrated and strengthened.
Patrick J. Daly is chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board and president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association.