Alberta schools will be funded on three-year average enrolment, province says

Alberta schools will receive per-capita student funding based on three-year average enrolment, the education minister said Tuesday, as she promised every school division will get more operational money in the budget coming later this month.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said under the new model, each school’s per-student funding will be calculated using a formula:

  • 20 per cent based on actual enrolment for the year just passed;
  • 30 per cent based on an estimate for the current year, and;
  • 50 per cent based on a projection for the upcoming year. 

The three-year weighted average will allow school divisions to know what they are getting for the upcoming year at the end of March, LaGrange told a news conference in Edmonton.

Under the current system, final budgets aren’t set until schools conduct a full count of students at the end of each September. 

Under the new system, a school division with 16,438 students in 2018-19, 16,487 in 2019-20, and a projection of 16,734 student  in 2020-21 would be funded for the weighted average of 16,601 students.

The new model provides more predictability by changing from one-year enrolment counts to the three-year average, the minister said.

“The move will help school divisions plan their finances well in advance of the start of the school year,” LaGrange said in a statement.

The new model will also include measures to keep school boards more accountable for student outcomes, she said. 

Funding grants for administration costs will handed out separately from grants for classroom instruction, LaGrange said.

Currently, boards spend three to five per cent of their overall funding on administration.

The actual amount of each school board’s grant won’t be revealed until the budget on Feb. 27.

The new funding formula will take effect on Sept. 1, 2020.