Alberta spent $27.4 million of public funds on subsidies to the province’s 15 most expensive private schools last year, according to information obtained in a freedom of information request to Alberta Education from a progressive advocacy group.
Progress Alberta said that funds that currently go toward the province’s most elite private schools could instead pay for six new schools, 109 new playgrounds or 272 teachers’ salaries.
“Public dollars should remain with public schools, for the greater good,” said Barbara Silva, of Support our Students Alberta, a public education advocacy group.
One of the schools receiving public funds, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, charges between $15,000 and $22,285 per student per year, on top of a $3,500 registration fee for new students, $800 to $1,000 for student uniforms, and $2,570 for bussing, among other fees.
The school received $3,634,765.42 in taxpayer subsidies in the 2016-2017 school year, according to the documents obtained by Progress Alberta.
Stephen Magusiak, a volunteer with Progress Alberta, visited the Alberta Teachers’ Convention in downtown Calgary on Thursday to collect signatures on a petition calling on the provincial government to stop funding private schools.
He said that the rationale that private schools exist to cater to students that slip through the cracks isn’t valid, as the funding could enable public schools to help those students and reduce large class sizes.