Hike funding

The abuse allegations put Sask. funding for independent schools in the spotlight. So how does it work?

Former students and opposition members have called on Saskatchewan’s Minister of Education to freeze government funding or close a private Christian school.

A CBC News investigation this month brought to light allegations by more than 30 students who say they suffered years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse from Christian Center Academy staff and management. , now called Legacy Christian Academy (LCA), and adjacent church.

The Department of Education announced changes to the Registered Independent Schools Regulations on Thursday, giving Minister Dustin Duncan the power to appoint an administrator for the academy as well as two other private schools in the province.

All of these institutions currently employ a person mentioned in the recent lawsuit filed by former Christian Center Academy students.

However, the ministry has not announced any changes to funding for qualified independent schools in Saskatchewan.

Cutting LCA funds would essentially mean closing the school, Duncan said Thursday at a news conference.

“I’m not ready to take this step to close the school,” he said. “If further action is necessary, I will take further action.”

The money for private schools is from 2012

Overall, there are five categories of independent schools:

  • Registered Independent Schools.
  • Alternative independent schools.
  • Associated schools.
  • Historical high schools.
  • Qualified independent schools, such as Legacy Christian Academy.

Saskatchewan began funding qualified independent schools that meet provincial standards in the 2012-13 school year.

For example, these schools must be non-profit, conform to provincial curricula, allow ministry oversight, and hire certified teachers, the province said in a news release in May.

In the same document, the Saskatchewan government announced $17.5 million in operating grants to 21 independent schools and four “historic” high schools for the 2022-23 school year.

This includes a $2.6 million increase “to support increased enrollment and the creation of a new category of funded independent schools,” the province said in May. “Final allocations will be reviewed and adjusted once actual September 2022 enrollments are confirmed.”

Private school funding tied to public school funding

By comparison, the province says it has allocated $1.99 billion over the next school year to Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions.

On Thursday, Duncan said the increase in funding for qualified independent schools for the coming school year is also tied to an increase in funding for public schools, as eligible private schools receive percentage funding based on average per student. from Saskatchewan.

“We have increased funding for independent schools in the province…because more and more parents are choosing independent schools,” Duncan said Thursday in a CBC interview. The morning edition.

“It’s not me saying, ‘I’m going to give this school or that school extra money because it’s an independent school. It depends on where parents send their children and a calculation based on overall student funding. »

The amount of money a private school receives is based on the number of student enrollments.

For example, qualified independent schools with up to 399 full-time students receive 50% of the provincial average per student.

“It’s less money, actually, than what would be attached to this student if he went to public school,” Duncan said during the CBC interview. “So it would actually require extra money if those students who attend independent schools were educated in the public system.”

The so-called “historic” high schools receive 80% of the provincial average per pupil. These types of schools are funded because of long-standing historic arrangements that were continued when independent school legislation began in 1989, according to the province.

A differential rate applies to qualified independent schools with 400 or more students enrolled.

All of these institutions receive their provincial funding on an annual basis to help cover a portion of education costs, the province said in May.

Legacy Christian Center has received over $700,000

Funding amounts for the upcoming school year are based on student enrollment in September of last year, the province announced in May. The rest is usually covered by tuition, which means parents have to pay and can participate in fundraising efforts.

“I think there is room for both, [private and public schools]”, Duncan said in Thursday’s interview with CBC. “We even have public school boards and separate school boards that have associated schools that give parents a choice of where they want their children educated. “

Legacy Christian Center has also received taxpayer money over the past decade.

According to the Government of Saskatchewan’s 2020-2021 Public Accounts, Legacy Christian Academy received public funding of $736,274 in 2021. The previous year, it received $699,587.

New category of independent school

Schools in the new category of Certified Independent Schools will receive 75% of the average per-student rate, according to Duncan and his department.

The province said in May that it formed the new category because of the expansion and growth of qualified independent schools, creating a step between qualified independent schools and associated schools.

“They’re bigger, usually bigger, than what you would see at a qualified independent school,” Duncan said Thursday. “There will be a control that will be put in place to ensure that there is a good functioning of the management of the school.”

Legacy Christian Academy would have met the criteria to be approved to become a certified independent school, the minister told CBC.

“We don’t approve of this pending the police investigation and the outcome of whatever happens next,” Duncan said.