In September 2020, the K to 12 education funding model was updated for the first time in 15 years.
The new model:
- simplifies the number of grants from 36 in the previous framework to 15 to give more flexibility to school authorities to determine how best to invest taxpayer dollars
- protects our most vulnerable students by providing funding to support specialized learning needs or groups of students who may require additional supports from school authorities
- moves to a 3-year weighted average methodology rather than a one-year enrolment count after the school year has started to provide more predictability in funding
- reduces red tape
- expands traditional accountability to include a combination of funding policies, processes, actions and evidence
How we got here
We met with each public, separate, charter and Francophone school division, along with other education partners, in the fall of 2019 to discuss ways to improve the school funding process.
School divisions identified 3 main areas where funding processes could improve:
- provide more predictable funding so they can better plan for each school year
- allow more flexibility in how they spend provincial dollars based on their school and community needs
- reduce provincial red tape
Money to classrooms
Alberta's K to 12 funding model ensures funds are directed to classrooms by providing a targeted grant for system administration, instead of a percentage of overall funding.
This standardizes administrative and governance spending, keeping it to a reasonable range while maximizing dollars for classrooms.
The model also simplifies grants to reduce red tape for school authorities.
We now let school authorities know how much provincial funding is available by the end of March each year, instead of September when the school year has already started.
Using a weighted, moving, 3-year average:
- minimizes the need for mid-year adjustments to budgets and staffing
- creates better alignment between the school year and the government’s fiscal year
- gives boards more predictability in their planning and budgeting processes
Small rural schools are now funded through a block-funding model to ensure long-term viability and make sure small rural schools have the money they need to offer educational programming.
An updated assurance framework builds on the strengths of the Accountability Pillar and includes lessons learned from the assurance pilot and review.
School authorities continue to develop education plans identifying priorities and areas to improve. The framework includes updated accountability measures to keep school boards accountable for student outcomes, community engagement and continuous improvement.
They use a core set of provincial measures to report on results, creating a clear picture of how well the education system works.
Weighted moving average
As of September 2020, we now use the weighted moving average method for almost all K to 12 education grants.
This calculates average enrolment by assigning a larger weighting to the more recent year's enrolment than weighting on the previous year’s enrolment. This makes it easier for school boards to predict enrolment and minimizes school authorities having to adjust their revenue forecasts or staffing levels throughout the school year.
We work with school authorities on overall enrolment projections to calculate the weighted factor.
Simplified grant structure
Alberta's updated education funding model reduces red tape and gives more flexibility to school authorities to determine how best to invest taxpayer dollars. The model reduced the number of grants from 36 in the previous framework to 15.
These 15 major grants fit into 5 categories:
|Services and support
Base instruction grants
Kindergarten and Grades 1 to Grade 9
The base instruction grants allocate funding equitably on the weighted moving average to ensure that every school in Alberta can deliver predictable and sustainable basic instructional programming.
This model focuses on programming for student needs and outcomes.
High school funding moved from the many Credit Enrolment Unit (CEU) models to one model based on weighted moving average.
We eliminated the Carnegie Unit, removed grants and reporting and focused on a single base instruction rate for high school. The exception is summer school, which remains on the CEU model with a cap of 10 CEUs but at a lower rate to reflect its cost.
High school funding is approximately 10% more than Kindergarten to Grade 9 to account for the increased cost of programming.
Student choice is a critical part of this model. It ensures there is support for options like:
- distance education
- online education
- home education
- summer school
Rural Small Schools
Rural Small Schools are schools located in rural areas or small population centres (with a population below 30,000) as defined by Statistics Canada.
Weighted moving average enrolment determines the enrolment thresholds of the small rural schools eligible to receive this grant.
The block funding is based on enrolment, with different amounts for different student populations.
Alberta's K to 12 funding model recognizes the unique challenges rural jurisdictions face operating schools and delivering education services.
Services and support grants
The Education Act establishes specific obligations for school boards as they relate to students who may be in need of specialized supports and services.
School boards must provide a range of supports and services for students consistent with the principles of inclusive education.
Alberta's K to 12 funding model recognizes the importance of providing a range of services for students who need them and ensures school jurisdictions have the flexibility to support the unique needs of every student.
It recognizes and fund grants such as:
- Program Unit Funding (PUF)
- English as a Second Language (ESL) / Francisation
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit
Operations and maintenance funding changed from a per student model to a model that considers utilized and underutilized space (75%) and per student funding (25%).
We worked with each Alberta school board on school space calculations for use in calculating the grant and considered school division concerns over rising insurance rates.
The allocations are based on 2 aspects, student population (weighted moving average) and socio-economic and geographic challenges faced by school authorities.
The school nutrition grant continues.
System administration funding is allocated under the funding model.
- Transforming K-12 education funding (February 18, 2020)