September 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alberta's Independent Schools: Taxpayers Saved $750 million
A new study commissioned by Alberta-based Parents for Choice in Education shows that Alberta’s independent schools saved the provincial government $750-million over the last five years, including $168 million in the last year alone.
The study, commissioned by PCE and authored by policy analyst and government spending expert Mark Milke, is drawn from Alberta Education data. “The province’s own data shows clearly that educating students in independent schools is a bargain for taxpayers,” says Milke, “this because per-student funding in independent schools ranges from 60% to 70% of those in government/public schools.”
The study found that in Alberta in 2014/15, 631,089 students were enrolled in some sort of public school—“public,” separate (Catholic), Francophone or Charter, while 29,400 students were enrolled in independent schools.
In 2014/15, a conservative estimate of the public system cost to taxpayers—including instruction, operations and transportation but excluding governance, program support and basic education program costs—amounted to $10,874 per student. In contrast, because independent schools receive less funding per student relative to the public system, and charge school enrolment fees to parents, the cost to taxpayers of students in independent/private schools was $5,150 per student—or less than half the public school cost.
The study found that in 2014/15, had all the students enrolled in independent schools instead attended public schools, the extra cost to taxpayers—and the provincial education budget—would have been $168 million. Over the five years analyzed in the report (2010/11 to 2015/15 inclusive), the existence of independent/private schools thus saved taxpayers a total of $750-millio.
“Provincial funding allows lower and middle income families who choose to make the financial sacrifice access to independent/private schools that otherwise could not do so,” writes Milke. “To eliminate such funding would in fact increase the ‘two-tiered’ education paradigm claimed by those opposed to private schooling, as only the wealthiest would then have access to independent schools.” “At a minimum, any notion that such schools ‘cost’ taxpayers extra money or diverts money from public schools does not stand up to an analysis of the numbers.”