Living Sky School Division is questioning the province’s latest funding strategy for international students attending its schools after receiving news of a significant funding cut.
At its last board meeting, the division indicated Living Sky would receive $70,436 less in funding for international students for the 2017-18 school year. The report showed Living Sky currently has one international student.
In a letter to school divisions, the province said it is setting a new international student tuition rate for all divisions at $4,849 for each international student in the pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 funding model.
“In the end, it means less money that we would be collecting for international students,” Randy Fox, Living Sky interim director of education said. “It’s not a huge thing for us, in the sense, we don’t have huge numbers of international students, but it still is a bit of a concern for us any time a change like that results in fewer dollars for the school division.”
Fox said if the school division receives less funding, “we have to find that unless we are going to make more cuts in our programming or in our services.”
“It’s always a challenge any time your funding is reduced to find a way to cover that off without cutting services or programs,” he added. “Right now, we need some clarification. I would like to assume if we had more international students we would receive less of a reduction.”
The breakdown from the province also indicates another local school division, Light of Christ Catholic School Division, will receive a smaller reduction of $20,331. Both Living Sky and Light of Christ currently have only one international student, according to the province’s report.
Fox said the province’s flat international student tuition rate of just under $5,000 is less than the school division’s average per pupil cost.
Typically, the tuition for international students was calculated by assessing the school division’s average cost per student for that year, according to Fox, but the province is changing this.
Provincial spokesperson Chris Hodges said the province's new funding model is proportionate to the number of international students in a division. He said divisions with international student programs requested the change, which was made “in order to keep the programs viable, and to provide supports to those students.”
“School divisions that have a high number of international students are now retaining more of that tuition revenue,” he wrote in an email to BattlefordsNow. “With no additional dollars available provincially to make this change, the funding is rebalanced among the 28 school divisions. So, a school division that does have international students, but a low number of them, may still see a funding decrease through this change.”
He added: “Following the adjustment to the funding model for 2017-18, international students are still charged tuition by the division. The Ministry is now adjusting funding using a lower rate, meaning more tuition revenue will stay in the divisions accepting international students and less tuition revenue will be redistributed among all school divisions.”
Thus, "divisions without international students, or a low percentage of international students compared to their total enrolment, may see a decline in funding as a result."
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