Why Are There No Longer "Local Schools" in Ontario?
- Ontario has had a centralized funding model for public education in elementary and secondary schools since 1997, and Ontario school boards no longer have the power to levy local education taxes.
- Each Ontario elementary or secondary student is allocated a portion of funding for their education, regardless of where they attend a school or program.
- Each taxpayer (adult resident) in Ontario contributes to any public elementary or secondary school or program in Ontario in a relatively even or similar manner, as the residential education tax rate is universally the same anywhere across Ontario.
- The business education tax rates had been capped at the same level for 94% of all Ontario businesses as of 2021.
- Therefore, there are no longer "local schools" in Ontario; and provisions of school zoning in the Ontario Education Act are likely no longer valid.
This post is to provide the information, and the citations might not be properly given. All the credits are attributed to the original sources. It is written to the best of the contributors' knowledge and memory, which might not be fully accurate.
This post is majorly based on the information provided by a contributor.
This is one of a series of accompanying explanatory posts for the FREEDOM Declaration of Ontario and the FREEDOM of Ontario's Heads-up Message to Ontario Citizens and Residents, as listed in the latter's Appendix.
This centralized funding model for public education in Ontario was introduced into the Ontario Education Act (the "Act") by the Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997 (the "EQIA"). Regarding whether and how the EQIA suspended Ontario school boards' power to levy taxes, the summary of the legal case Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Assn. v. Ontario (Attorney General),  1 S.C.R. 470, 2001 SCC 15, reads:
The 1997 Education Quality Improvement Act (“EQIA”) amended the Ontario Education Act and created a new governance and funding model for all school boards in the province, in part to address a disparity of revenues between boards by allocating funds on a per-pupil basis. The EQIA removed the ability of school boards to set property tax rates for education and centralized taxation power in the hands of the Minister of Finance. The new model limits the power of boards to control their budgets and expenditures but guarantees local control over denominational expenditures. ...
It reads that the boards' powers of levying taxes likely has been permanently overridden, as the EQIA has been incorporated into the Act that is presently in effect.
Under the centralized funding model,
- Each Ontario student is allocated a portion of funding for their education, per-pupil amount, regardless of where they attend a school;
- Per-pupil amount insignificantly varies across the province;
- The funding each school board receives is calculated via a quite complicated formula, the major factor of the formula being the number of students in the board.
It is of significance to know the composition of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) funding, to be convincing in the context of Ontario students' right of open access and equal opportunities to schools and programs anywhere in the province, including but not limited to in Toronto.
Nearly all funding for any school board in Ontario now comes from provincial public funds. Based on the information out of tentative research, if the TDSB's funding composition remains stable in recent years, by end of this year 2021, nearly all the TDSB's funding comes from provincial public funds:
- Around 70% is from provincial general funds;
- Around 11% is from residential education taxes Toronto collects on behalf of the Province and returns to the board, for which the tax rate is universally the same across the Province, and thus such taxes are provincial public funds;
- Around 19% comes from business education taxes Toronto collects on behalf of the Province, for which in 2001 the tax rate is being capped at the same level for 94% of the businesses in the Province (accessible description, and business education tax rates tables 2021), and thus such taxes are largely provincial public funds too.
The percentage of the provincial public funds for the TDSB is then (at minimum) around 70% + 11% + 19% x 94% = 98.86%.
Note: The above 70%, 11% & 19% were found somewhere during initial investigation, the original source cannot be conveniently located for now. When needed, the School Board's funding composition in the current year and recent years may be provided by the TDSB via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, if such information is inaccessible to the public online.
Also, please notice that the provincial general funds, which account for around 70% for the education funds allocated from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Education, come from the taxes (not education taxes) collected from the general public.
Today, there are no such things like "the TDSB's schools and programs," and there are only Ontario provincially funded schools and programs located in Toronto (and managed by the TDSB).
As shown in the post Origin of School Zoning and Historical Nexus of Open Enrollment in Ontario Public Education, school zoning was based on the fact that residents in different school sections contributed to their local schools via education taxes, which was historically levied by school boards and the education tax rates varied across school boards.
Under the centralized funding model, all the school zoning provisions in the Act, not only for secondary education, but for elementary education, likely have fully lost their financial and legal grounds, and are more than likely no longer valid.
Centralized funding model is the latest and strongest financial and legal foundation for open enrollment, which has been generally and generously permitted and supported as an invaluable tradition in Ontario.
Ontario public education has become a provincially public service, as education experts and school board trustees may have been aware of.
We taxpayers, no matter where we reside in Ontario, are paying taxes (both general taxes and education parts of property taxes) in the same way for any school or program anywhere in Ontario.
An elementary or secondary student is assigned a per-pupil amount for their education, no matter where they attend a school or program.
Who shall gain any privilege or preferential treatment for admission to the school or program? No one, certainly.