Quebec to Cut Private School Funding?

Quebec to Cut Private School Funding?

Quebec City (Quebec) September 27, 2014 – In its ongoing effort to cut back on government expenses and reign in public spending, Education Minister Yves Bolduc is considering cutbacks in government funding to private elementary and high schools.  In a drastic proposal, the government is weighing its options in these cuts, proposing as much as a 50% cut in funding.

Private schools are naturally worried about how the proposal will affect their attendance, and even for many schools, their very future. Currently, private schools cost on average about 4000$ per year per child, which is paid directly by students. The government supplies the rest of the money private schools need for their curricula and activities. Under the proposed cuts, the bill could jump to 6000$ per year.

The Fédération des établissements d’enseignement privés (Federation of Private Schools) are predicting that this will lead to a massive exodus of students to the public system, estimating that as many as 30% of their clients – almost entirely from Québec’s middle class – would opt for public school instead. The Federation argues this would not result in a net gain to the public purse, since students in public schools are entirely funded by the state, as opposed to private schools where part of the cost is covered by the students’ parents. They also contend that this decision would not be in the public interest, as it would make private schools ever more exclusive and elitist.  The Education Minister contends that the public school system has already faced important budget compressions, and that private schools must also do their part.

Making the matter more complicated is that there does not seem to be a clear agreement on exactly how much of a private school’s funding comes from the government. Though nominally private schools have 60% of their funding provided by the state, a report published in June concluded that this was in reality closer to 75%.

These proposals fit within an ongoing effort by Minister Bolduc to squeeze almost a billion dollars out of the annual education budget as part of the Liberal Party of Québec’s promise to address the province’s finances.

Categories: Politics

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