For what it's worth, here's a press release (March, 1998) from the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training about the new funding system.
It appears that it is a departure away from property-based funding to general revenue funding. It appears there is funding for ESL and other special needs. In prinicple, the idea of provincial funding based on comparable needs is a good one, I think. We'll see proof and pudding soon enough. The Harris government doesn't seem terrribly adept at implementing and administering its ideas (whether harebrained or good).
An overview of student-focused funding
March 25, 1998
The start of the 1998-99 school year will see a new, student-focused funding model used to distribute money for elementary and secondary education.
Student-focused funding will be more responsive to the needs of students throughout the province. Funding will be based on students* needs rather than the local community*s wealth. Parents will be assured that, no matter where they live in Ontario, there is funding to provide high quality education to their children.
Ontario*s new approach to funding will also provide greater accountability. Parents and taxpayers will be able to see clearly
how school boards are spending education dollars.
Student-focused funding replaces the current, complex system of grants with a simpler, more effective system that is easier to administer.
Stable funding for education
Education spending will be stable at over $13 billion for each of the next three years. When combined with current teacher pension contributions, this will total $14.4 billion in 1998-99. In addition, a total of $385 million will be provided to help school boards restructure and make a smooth transition to the new funding model and a reformed education system.
A greater share for the classroom * a reinvestment in quality
The new model will focus on directing as many dollars as possible to the student and the classroom. For the first time in Ontario*s history, classroom spending will be defined and protected. In its first three years, the new funding model will increase the share of resources directed to the classroom from 61 to 65 per cent.
Ontario*s new approach to funding education includes reinvestment in key areas.
a Class Size Protection Fund that will provide $1.2 billion over three years to ensure that, on a board-wide basis,
average class size does not exceed 25 pupils in elementary school classes and 22 pupils in secondary school classes.
Funding for additional teachers will be provided where required because of enrolment growth
support for early learning that will provide all boards with the resources for quality education in the important early
years. All school boards will be able to offer Junior Kindergarten or alternative early learning programs.
a Learning Opportunities Grant to provide extra help for students at greater risk of academic failure because of their
social and economic situations
over $1 billion in protected funding for special education
funding for English as a Second Language and its French-language equivalent, Actualisation linguistique en franšais
/Perfectionnement du franšais
a one-time $50 million investment in learning materials such as text books and software
A new emphasis on accountability will let parents and taxpayers see where their education dollars are being spent.
targeted allocations, which will be monitored by the province to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and for the purposes intended a requirement that school boards issue an annual Financial Report Card an annual Report to Taxpayers from the province, summarizing what each school board has spent
The new student-focused funding model will replace the existing thirty-four different types of grants with eleven.
a Foundation Grant to provide for the core education of every student
nine Special Purpose Grants to recognize the different circumstances faced by students and school boards:
Special Education Grant * a two-part grant. The first part would provide flexible funding to meet the needs of exceptional students, while the second part would meet the needs of specific students who require specialized high-cost assistance
Language Grant * to support a range of programs to help students learn the language of their classroom or a second language
Early Learning Grant * to ensure that school boards have the resources to design early learning programs that best meet the needs of children in their communities
Learning Opportunities Grant * to support a range of programs designed to help students who are at greater risk of academic failure because of their social and economic situations
Geographic and School Authorities Grant * to pay the additional costs faced by boards in rural and remote areas, boards operating small schools or serving sparse student populations, and school authorities
Teacher Compensation Grant * to give school boards the funds they need to recognize teachers* qualifications and experience
Adult and Continuing Education Grant * to fund education for adults 21 and over including credit courses leading to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma and non- credit second-language training in English or French; this grant also funds summer school for secondary school students and International-languages instruction (often called *Heritage Languages*)
Transportation Grant * to pay for bussing and other student transportation
School Board Administration and Governance grant * to pay for the cost of trustees, directors and supervisory officers, and central administration of school boards a Pupil Accommodation Grant to pay for building new schools; operating and maintenance costs (heating, lighting, cleaning); repairs and renovations; and capital debt servicing costs