Public education subsidized by independent students’ parents

Were it not for independent schools, there would be even fewer dollars per student for education in B.C.

Re: Tax dollars should only be used for public purposes.

It seems that every few years the topic of public funding for independent schools appears in the public forum. Ms. Norton writes: “How can you state that the 35-50 per cent funding independent schools receive does not draw resources from the public school system? Of course it does.”

I beg to differ. Parents of students in B.C.’s independent schools (approximately 10 per cent of today’s student population) pay provincial school taxes while paying tuition fees at their respective schools of choice. Independent school buildings and properties, where their children attend, are financed by privately-supplied funding – not tax dollars. In addition, half the operating costs are derived from donations and tuition fees.

In 1997, when this matter was debated in the Legislative Assembly, then-education minister Paul Ramsey (NDP), stated that if all independent school students were in the public system, it would result in an additional cost of $200 million. Furthermore, he said that the capital costs to provide classrooms and materials for those students would impose an additional $1 billion burden on the public purse which, in his words, “is more than a debt plan could sustain” (Hansard, July 21, 1997).

Were it not for independent schools, there would be even fewer dollars per student for education in B.C. In other words, contrary to Ms. Horton’s assertion, parents in independent school communities are subsidizing public education. True choice would be to allow parents the freedom to divert their education tax dollars to the school of their choice, and in return, no government funding would be spent on independent schools (I am not advocating this).

Dave Loewen

Abbotsford