Funding Cuts

To help you understand the impact of the recent funding cuts for independent distributed learning (IDL) schools announced by the Ministry of Education we’ve curated some questions and answers below.  We’ve also included information and exemplars for you to use when reaching out to express your thoughts on this change.

Effective July 1, 2020, IDL school funding will be cut by 21%.  This equates to approximately $793 per student in funding lost.

The Ministry has made it clear this was primarily a political decision and referenced the optics of IDLs not charging tuition as a key factor.

  • IDL is independent distributed learning – we now get funded $3050 per student (a drop of $793)
  • DL is public distributed learning – they get $6100 per student

With one exception, independent DL schools do not charge overall per year, per student tuition. The Ministry of Education believes this shows that independent distributed learning is “fully funded” by the government. This is not true. In order to provide personalized education plans for families, we charge a service based tuition for programs like Learning Groups (i.e. if your child opts to attend a Community Connection you pay a tuition for that service; however, because not all families choose that option, not all families pay that part of the tuition). We believe in choice for families. In addition, most of our families pay significant out-of-pocket expenses traditionally covered by a typical brick & mortar school (ie. music lessons, physical education programming, supplies, curriculum, etc). While we provide a budget for some curriculum resources, our funding is currently not enough to cover all these expenses typically paid for by schools. The Ministry of Ed has rejected this argument and would like to see independent DL schools charge a yearly per-student tuition.

Historical IDL Funding

The table below shows the funding amount allocated per student to IDLs since 2010/2011.

Year IDL Funding Public DL Funding Public B&M Funding* Change for IDL Notes
2010/2011 $3,655 N/A $7,310   50% of District Public Brick & Mortar
2011/2012 $3,690 N/A $7,380 +$35 50% of District Public Brick & Mortar
2012/2013 $3,628 $5,850 N/A -$62 Changed to 62% of new Public DL rate
2013/2014 $3,686 $5,850 N/A +$58 Increased to 63% of Public DL rate
2014/2015 $3,686 $5,850 N/A $0 63% of Public DL
2015/2016 $3,799 $6,030 N/A +$113 63% of Public DL
2016/2017 $3,799 $6,030 N/A $0 63% of Public DL
2017/2018 $3,843 $6,100 N/A +$44 63% of Public DL
2018/2019 $3,843 $6,100 N/A $0 63% of Public DL
2019/2020 $3,843 $6,100 N/A $0 63% of Public DL
2020/2021 $3,050 $6,100 N/A -$793 50% of Public DL
* Public B&M funding numbers based on Central Okanagan Public School district (SD23)

How Can Parents Help

Independent school families have rallied and made their voices heard in a way that altered the government's plans in the past. We are asking you to join with us and help the government understand the significant negative impact this decision will have on their constituents. Below are tips for writing to your MLA, the Minister of Education and Deputy Minister.

Who to Write

Minister of Education - Rob Fleming

Your local MLA
Find your MLA by Community 
Consider visiting their office to also hand deliver your letter and having a conversation about the impact on your family. 

What to Write (Key Messaging)

  • This decision is discriminatory as it assumes the same ability for distributed learning parents to pay tuition as campus school parents; however, in most distributed learning families, one parent is at home and not able to work. In addition, numerous out of pocket costs are incurred by families.
  • Our school serves a very high number of vulnerable students. Over 40% of our students have diverse learning needs or come from bullying, crisis, and other traumatic situations. Distributed learning is the only kind of learning that has worked for them. This cut targets some of the most vulnerable students in our province.
  • The timing of this announcement comes at a time of economic hardship for many and will further reduce options for parents regarding educational choice for their children. It is also a time when online learning should be valued, celebrated and supported.
  • This decision targets one type of student: independent distributed learning students. No other funding has been cut. 

How to Write It

What to Include

  • Keep it Brief – Limit letters to one page covering one issue. Long rants will undermine your credibility and are often ignored. Be courteous and informative in your communication. 
  • Identify Yourself – Begin with an introduction of yourself using a simple statement such as, "As a proud BC resident and distributed learning parent…", "As a constituent of (specify riding) I have been a resident of (city/town) for XX years". Go on to state the purpose of the letter referring to your opposition of planned changes to Independent Distributed Learning funding. 
  • Get to the Point – Follow your introduction with a brief statement of why you oppose the announced changes to Independent Distributed Learning funding. A few strong, well-thought-out arguments are much more effective than a laundry list of reasons opposing the new policy. Whenever possible, use bullet points to outline your arguments. 
  • Stick to One Issue - Keep the focus of the letter on the funding cut.  Don’t include other issues that you feel may be related. This will detract from the focus of your letter.
  • Include a Personal Story – Personalize the letter by including examples of how the revised policy might impact or inconvenience you and your family. Include specific facts about your area and local anecdotes to help your MLA understand why your position is important and how this new policy impacts you and other constituents. 
  • The "Ask" – Be specific about what you are asking the MLA to do (i.e. "Rescind the funding reduction", "Please tell the Premier…", "Delay the implementation of the funding cut to allow schools to adjust.", etc). Request a response clarifying the MLA’s position on this issue and ask for a meeting to discuss the issue.
  • Show Appreciation - Thank the MLA for his or her support and offer to address any questions that he or she might have. Be sure to include your contact information (full address and postal code), and sign the letter. 

What to Avoid

  • Aggressive Language - avoid threatening or abusive language as this will result in the reader passing the email off as irrational or not worth reading.
  • Specialized Language - use language that all readers will be able to understand.  Specialized language may result in confusion on the part of the reader and lessen the impact of your letter.
  • Lengthy Essays - The people reading the letter are busy and will not take the time to read through a lengthy essay.  Be brief, concise and to the point to ensure your voice is heard.
  • Topic Changes - Focus on a single topic, the funding cut, to ensure the importance of it and the impact it will have on your children is heard.  Don’t give an avenue for them to be distracted by other issues you bring up in the letters

Be encouraged! Your voices are being heard but we need to be persistent and continue. Thank you for joining with us and all of the families around BC who value the freedom we have with independent schooling. Here is an example of the kind of support we are beginning to receive in government, which is all the more reason to continue to make our voices heard. This video below is of Dan Davies, MLA and Opposition Critic for Education.

Sign the Petition

Parents have started a petition to show their support for reinstating the previous funding levels.  Please visit https://hcos.ca/funding-cut-petition to join the petition.  Share the link with friends and family to show their support as well.

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