What’s your child’s education worth?
It turns out that if your son or daughter attends one of the French public schools within the same footprint as the Near North District Public School Board, his or her education is valued at about $7,000 more than their English school peers, and about $9,465 more than a student at St. Peter’s Catholic school. If they attend a French Catholic school, the province is spending almost $4,700 more compared to each Near North student, and about $6,885 more than if they attend a Simcoe Muskoka Catholic school like St. Peter’s.
In Ontario, it’s every student’s constitutional right to attend a Catholic or French school. But should that right also mean more taxpayer dollars are spent on the education of a few?
For years now, that’s been the case in the Parry Sound and Nipissing districts.
Every year, the North Star publishes a comparison of per-student funding throughout the area where Near North District School Board schools operate. And every year, the public school system comes last when it comes to the provincial investment per pupil among boards based in the North Bay and Parry Sound area.
The grant system used by the province to fund our schools is complex. Line by line, there’s plenty of room for analysis. But line-by-line, there are plenty of reasons to express alarm and ask questions.
For example, should French public schools receive more money per student for language studies? In high school, the same number of language credits are required, whether you’re French-speaking or English-speaking. Should one cost more?
In another example, the Near North board receives fewer dollars per capita for special education. Does the public board have a smaller percentage of special education students? We suspect the opposite.
In a third example, does higher interest costs per student in the French boards represent newer buildings? Tour any Near North school in the Parry Sound area, and you might come to that conclusion.
Do separate school boards in northern Ontario require more money for transportation and geographic circumstances than the sprawling Near North board that stretches from south of MacTier to the Québec border?
Amid the questions, there are two lessons here as we compare school boards in our area: 1. Bigger may not necessarily be better. 2. You should teach your children to speak French.