By Kristen Calis, Jessica Cunha and Rosie-Ann Grover, published Jun 06, 2012 by Niagara This Week
“In York, more than $125,000 separates two elementary schools within the same board. St. Clare Catholic School, located in a wealthy Woodbridge neighbourhood, brought in $131,000. In a less affluent area in Markham, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Elementary School raised just $4,000. At Hamilton’s St. Joseph Catholic elementary school where parent involvement is high, the school took in $192,000. Five kilometres away in the north end of the city, St. Lawrence elementary brought in $9,800.
Critics, school associations and parents say the need to fundraise is the result of inadequate funding, making it necessary for schools to bulk up on private dollars, sometimes even for the basics.
“Fundraising is so political. It’s basically a fallout. It’s a symptom of a bigger issue in public education,” says Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, which has been calling for a funding model review for a number of years.
Education Minister Laurel Broten says Ontario increased education funding to $20.3 billion in the 2010-11 school year, an increase of $6.5 billion — or 45 per cent — since 2003, excluding capital programs.
“Fundraising proceeds should only be used to complement dollars of public investment to the schools and to the education system,” Broten says. “The Ministry of Education funds directly many programs and investments where we seek to ensure we have an equitable education system; our results are demonstrating that.”
NDP education critic Peter Tabuns says students attending schools with the ability to fundraise large amounts will likely have better music and art classes, more computers and school trips.
“You’ll see a richer educational experience for the children, and for the schools that have no money, things will be tighter,” Tabuns says. “They will have less access to computers, to textbooks, what we see as integral or important parts of a good, solid education.”
Fundraising inequities have been building for more than 20 years, says Kidder, of People for Education.”