Education funding and priorities

The Ontario government is responsible for the:

We are improving accountability and transparency while focusing the publicly funded education system on:

  • boosting student achievement in core academic skills
  • preparing students for the jobs of the future
  • student well-being

Recent laws have set new provincial priorities for school boards. The priorities include core skills like reading, writing and math. The laws also give us more oversight over how education funding supports these priorities.

School boards have flexibility in how they use funding to make local decisions that support the education outcomes of their students. They also must work within an accountability framework.

How we fund school boards

We fund 72 district school boards and 10 school authorities:

  • for day-to-day operations through the annual core education funding
  • for temporary special projects and activities that support student learning and well-being through responsive education programs (REP) funding
  • for construction and improvement of school buildings through capital funding programs

Overall, core education funding provides about 90% of a school board’s total operating revenue.

The rest is from other sources, such as:

  • renting excess school space
  • other provincial grants
  • grants from the federal government
  • fees such as tuition from international students

Your school board is responsible for:

  • promoting student outcomes and well-being
  • developing and managing its budget in line with its funding allocation
  • allocating resources to schools so that they can provide programs to their students, including decisions on programs and staffing
  • deciding how to allocate funding to maintain, renew and improve school buildings and infrastructure
  • identifying priority needs for new or expanded schools and child care spaces in schools
  • complying with the requirements of the Education Act and its regulations

Core education funding

Core education funding is meant to provide equitable funding for all students across the province.

The funding is determined by a series of calculations to take the unique circumstances of students, schools and school boards into account. We set these calculations in regulation each year under the Education Act.

These calculations are based on a variety of factors, such as:

  • student enrolment
  • class size
  • the number of schools in a school board
  • student and school needs
  • school location
  • demographic profile
  • teacher experience and qualifications

School board funding can vary across the province based on these factors.

School boards have some flexibility in how they use core education funding to deliver education programs and services and maintain school facilities.

However, we protect some funding for key priorities, such as supporting:

  • students with special education needs
  • student mental health and wellness
  • student safety and well-being
  • Indigenous education

Types of funds

Core education funding is made up of 6 funds:

  • Classroom Staffing Fund — supports most staffing in the classroom.
  • Learning Resources Fund — for staffing outside of the classroom to support student needs and for other classroom costs, such as learning materials and classroom equipment.
  • Special Education Fund — supports students who need specialized programs, services and/or equipment.
  • School Facilities Fund — for operating (including cleaning and utilities), maintaining, renovating and renewing school buildings, plus additional support for students at schools in rural and northern communities.
  • Student Transportation Fund — for transporting students to and from home and school. 
  • School Board Administration Fund — for school board administration costs, including trustees and parent engagement activities.

Each fund within core education funding is made up of portions called allocations.

Read our Guide to core education funding: 2024–2025 school year to learn more about each fund’s allocations and how school boards can spend them.

How school boards receive core education funding

Core education funding uses a series of calculations to determine the total funding amount for each school board. Municipalities provide part of core education funding through education property taxes, and we provide the remaining amount.

We set the education property tax rate and each municipality:

  • collects this tax from local property owners on our behalf
  • gives it to school boards in the municipality

Even if the education property taxes municipalities provide changes from year to year, the funding we provide ensures each school board receives its full funding entitlement.

Responsive education programs (REP) funding

Every year we give school boards REP funding for emerging needs to support student learning and well-being.

Responsive education programs (and additional funding for third party recipients) provide time-limited funding for education partners to run temporary special projects and activities like pilot programs. We review this funding every year.

The funding supports projects and activities that have the greatest impact in the classroom and on students.  

Examples include:

  • science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs
  • mental health and well-being initiatives
  • job skills training
  • creating new learning materials
  • supports for students with special education needs and disabilities 

REP funding and additional funding for third party recipients is in addition to core education funding.

Funding to build, expand and renew schools

We provide funding to school boards for:

  • building new schools or expanding existing schools
  • building licensed child care spaces in schools
  • renewing schools with projects such as HVAC improvements, roof and window replacements, accessibility enhancements and modernizing classrooms
  • buying sites for future schools
  • buying or leasing spaces, such as portables

We provide this funding in addition to core education funding and responsive education programs funding.

Learn more about how we fund school capital.

School fundraising

Parents, guardians and communities may choose to support their schools through fundraising activities. School fundraising should not be used to:

  • replace public funding for education
  • support items already funded through provincial grants

Learn about the rules for fundraising in schools.

Accountability for education funding

We set policies, standards, expectations and accountability requirements that school boards must meet. The authority to do this comes from:

School boards are:

  • best positioned to recognize the local needs of their students, communities and parents
  • responsible for delivering local education within the accountability framework set out by us

Financial accountability framework

We have a financial accountability framework with school boards. This framework evolves over time and helps ensure transparent budgeting and public accountability. It also recognizes the need for school board flexibility to address local conditions.

The framework includes:

  • legislative requirements, for example, that school boards balance their budgets
  • financial reporting requirements
  • our monitoring, audit, review and, in some cases, supervisory activities
  • requirements that school boards/schools only use certain grants for the purpose intended, such as special education
  • our oversight of program/grant-specific reporting requirements

Learn more about how the school system is accountable for the funding we provide.