Fix the Formula: Fair Funding for Special Education
The Peel District School Board provides special education to about 22,000 students. While the board responds with the right support, the number of students with special needs, and their severity, keeps growing. So does the shortfall in the board’s budget to serve them, due to a flawed funding formula.
Peel board students are last of all Ontario school boards in High Needs Amount (HNA) special education funding. The problem is clear – and so is a solution. We are asking the provincial government to
#fix the formula.
Why funding is unfair
Funding amounts per capita are never the same. However, the funding formula should be fair. The HNA is not. One, the HNA isn’t scientifically-based, as boards calculated their special education needs in different ways. Two, the HNA is outdated, as the figures used as a benchmark are over 10 years old. Peel students have been disadvantaged as a result, while other boards have benefitted from an unfair formula.
We’re still able to serve our special education students. However, to keep pace with demand the board now spends $14 million more than it receives in total grants and revenues for special education. This isn’t a matter of overspending but of underfunding.
We can fix the funding formula
In the HNA funding, part of the total is based on a newer statistical model. It looks at socio-economic and demographic aspects of a community, e.g. family income, immigrant status, level of education, and more. This model accurately predicts the rate of special education needs in a community.
International experts in special education support this credible model – yet it’s used for just over 1% of the HNA. The Peel board proposes that the provincial government fix the funding formula now by using the prediction model almost entirely to calculate the HNA.
Getting the special education funding we deserve will benefit all students
To balance the board’s budget, the $14 million shortfall in special education funding must be made up from somewhere. It comes from chipping away at budgets from other departments and programs. This affects all children. Getting the special education funding that Peel board deserves will free resources to help every student.
For Peel board, basing the HNA on the prediction model would result in funding in the middle of pack of the 72 boards. That would mean another $14-16 million per year. Eliminating our shortfall and the pressure to cut other budgets ultimately frees resources to help every student we serve.
What can you, as parents and community members, do?
Parents, community members and school councils are critical voices in our campaign to fund Peel students fairly. Here are a few ways you can help to #FixtheFormula:
Contact your MPP via letter, email, phone—or personally visit them
Reach out to other parents in your community to spread the word
Use the #FixtheFormula hashtag on Twitter
Work with your child's school council and principal to host an information night
School councils are invited to send three members to attend an information night in their community. Sessions will be held on:
February 12 at 7 pm at Mississauga Secondary School in Mississauga
February 13 at 7 pm at Judith Nyman Secondary School in Brampton
February 18 at 7 pm at SouthFields Village Public School in Caledon