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Province increases funding for public schools

Education Minister Rob Fleming
Education Minister Rob Fleming

The province is putting more money in the public education system next year.

“More and more families and students are coming to B.C., and we are ensuring they can access our world-class public education system with increased funding and support,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, in a news release. “This year, B.C.’s public school districts are receiving significantly more funding than ever before, including more funding for Indigenous education and increased support for students with special needs.”

Public school operating grants have increased by $161 million in 2019-20. Funding for students with special needs is up by $63.7 million compared to last year and totals $601.7 million for 2019-20 – a 30 per cent increase over the 2016-17 school year, according to the ministry. The ministry is also increasing funding to support Indigenous students, bringing the total funding to $89.6 million this year – a $14.7 million increase over last year and a 29 per cent increase over the 2016-17 school year.

Government is providing $450 million for school districts to continue funding 4,200 teachers hired in the past three years through the Classroom Enhancement Fund, including 700 special education teachers and 190 teacher-psychologists and counsellors. The increases in operating funding have also helped support districts with hiring more than 1,000 new education assistants over the past three years.

Government has invested an additional $1 billion overall in the education system this fiscal year compared to what the previous government provided in 2016-17. This allows $838 million more to go directly to public school districts for operating funding to support students.

As of September 2019, an additional 5,100 full-time equivalent students are enrolled in B.C.’s schools compared to the year before. The districts with the highest growth in students are:

* Surrey (+1,039)

* Burnaby (+441)

* Central Okanagan (+377)

* Langley (+336)

* Sooke (+281)

“We’re pleased to see more students in our public schools and additional funds from the Ministry of Education to support them,” said Stephanie Higginson, president, B.C. School Trustees’ Association. “Our public education system is one of the best in the world. We are grateful that the ministry is committed to making sure all families and students in our province have access to high-quality public education. We’re also thankful to see additional investments for Indigenous students and students with special needs to help ensure that our education system is truly inclusive.”

Most districts are growing, as 40 of B.C.’s 60 school districts had their enrolment increase over last year, while 20 had declines. Overall student enrolment is up for the fifth year in a row.

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