Table of contents

COVID-19 response

Find out about the 2020-21 school year and learning during during COVID-19.

Important dates

We will implement the new funding model in September 2020.


We will update the K to 12 education funding model for the first time in 15 years to improve funding and accountability processes and help Albertans feel confident that the education system is meeting the needs of students.

The new model:

  • simplifies the number of grants from 36 in the current 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

Our overall commitment for school authority funding for 2020-21 is available.

The 2020-21 school authority funding manual is now available. Estimated 2020-21 operational funding for public, separate, Francophone, and charter schools is also available.

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

The new funding model ensures funds are directed to classrooms by providing a targeted grant for system administration, instead of a percentage of overall funding.

This will standardize administrative and governance spending, keeping it to a reasonable range while maximizing dollars for classrooms.

The new model also simplifies grants to reduce red tape for school authorities.

Predictable funding

We will 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 will:

  • minimize the need for mid-year adjustments to budgets and staffing
  • create better alignment between the school year and the government’s fiscal year
  • give boards more predictability in their planning and budgeting processes

Small rural schools will move to a block-funding model to ensure long-term viability and make sure small rural schools have the money they need to offer educational programming.

Improved accountability

A new assurance framework builds on the strengths of the Accountability Pillar and includes lessons learned from the assurance pilot and review.

School authorities will continue to develop education plans identifying priorities and areas to improve. The framework includes new accountability measures to keep school boards accountable for student outcomes, community engagement and continuous improvement.

They will use a core set of provincial measures to report on results, creating a clear picture of how well the education system works.

Changes to grant funding

Weighted Moving Average

We will use the weighted moving average method for all K to 12 education grants starting in September 2020.

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 will make it easier for school boards to predict enrolment and minimize school authorities having to adjust their revenue forecasts or staffing levels throughout the school year.

We will work with school authorities on overall enrolment projections to calculate the weighted factor.

School year Weighted factor Enrolment count
Previous 20% Actual
Current 30% Estimates
Next 50% Projection

Simplified grant structure

The new model reduces red tape and gives more flexibility to school authorities to determine how best to invest taxpayer dollars by simplifying the number of grants from 36 in the current framework to 15.

These 15 major grants fit into 5 categories:

Categories Grants
Base instruction
  • Kindergarten
  • Grades 1 to 9
  • High school
  • Rural schools
Services and support
  • Specialized learning support
  • Program Unit Funding (PUF)
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) / Francisation
  • Refugee
  • First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Transportation
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Geographic
  • Nutrition
  • System administration

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

High school funding will move 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 will remain on the CEU model with a cap of 10 CEUs but at a lower rate to reflect its cost.

High school funding will be 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 that there is support for options like:

  • distance education
  • online education
  • outreach
  • 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 will determine the enrolment thresholds of the small rural schools eligible to receive this grant.

The block funding will based on enrolment, with different amounts for different student populations.

The new 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 continuum of supports and services for students consistent with the principles of inclusive education.

The new model recognizes the importance of providing a continuum of services for students who need them and ensures that school jurisdictions have the flexibility to support the unique needs of every student.

It will continue to recognize and fund grants such as:

  • Program Unit Funding (PUF)
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) / Francisation
  • Refugee
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit

School grants

Operations and maintenance funding will change 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 new model doesn’t change transportation funding other than removing some of the reporting requirements.

Community grants

The allocations will be based on 2 aspects, student population (weighted moving average) and socio-economic and geographic challenges faced by school authorities.

The school nutrition grant will continue.

Jurisdiction grants

We will allocate system administration funding under the new model.