Where Your Tax Dollar Goes - How school boards get and spend your money

·3 min read

As the Cosmos recently reported in the first of our series on taxation leading up to the Oct. 24 municipal election, your property taxes not only comprise a major portion of revenues for the tier-one municipality known as the Township of Uxbridge. A substantial piece of your tax dollar also goes to the tier-two municipality, the Region of Durham, which we’ll discuss next week. And a third piece is forwarded to your local school district (taking 14 per cent of residential property taxes in 2022, and 35 per cent of commercial/industrial ones). But who decides on the rate of taxation, by what process do the school districts receive the funds, what portion of their revenue budget is comprised by them, and most importantly, how is that money spent on the education of your children?

Property taxes: The Ontario Minister of Finance sets education tax rates annually. Municipalities bill for and collect property taxes, then remit the education property taxes to their local school boards on a quarterly basis. In 2022, 75.4 per cent of the Uxbridge taxes for education went to the English Public board, 22.6 per cent went to English Catholic, 0.7 per cent to French Public and 1.3 per cent to French Catholic. An important point is that education taxes do not cover the full cost of education – only about a quarter, on average. The remainder of the funding is provided to school boards by the Ministry of Education through grants. The Ministry determines the total amount of funding each school board is entitled to receive in the year under the Grants for Student Needs (GSN).

Education taxes (which come from property taxes) do not cover the full cost of education – only about a quarter, on average.

The provincial government allocates funds to school boards based on a number of factors including: number of students and schools; preponderance of special education students; rate of students with English or French as a second language; percentage of Indigenous students; and geographical features, such as having small schools or schools far apart.

Trustees: On Oct. 24, you will elect a trustee to the board of whichever school district you have chosen to support (English public or Catholic, or French public or Catholic). Even if you have no children, if your children go to a private school or are home-schooled, you are still obliged to support one of these four boards with your property taxes. The trustees have these powers in the education system:

– establishing a board’s mission, vision, values, goals and climate

– developing multi-year board plans to achieve the board’s goals, consulting with parents, students and supporters of the board on the plan and bringing feedback to the attention of the board

– ensuring conditions in the board promote student achievement and well-being

– ensuring effective stewardship of the school board’s budget and resources

– making decisions about policy direction. Overall policy decisions are made by the trustees with input from the community, and based on the advice of staff. Day-to-day decisions are left to staff.

– hiring and reviewing the performance of the board’s director of education

– participating in committees, such as the Special Education Advisory Committee, and the Parent Involvement Committee, and participating in quasi-judicial committees such as those responsible for suspensions and expulsions and special education appeals.

Uxbridge Schools: The Durham District School Board operates six schools in the Township: Goodwood Public, Scott Central Public (Sandford), Quaker Village Public, Joseph Gould Public, Uxbridge Public and Uxbridge Secondary. The Durham Catholic District School Board operates one, St. Joseph’s, located beside Quaker Village Public. Many students living in Uxbridge either do not attend school (being home-taught) or attend schools beyond the municipal borders, either public or private. But as noted above, their parents must still pay education related property taxes.

In a related article later this fall, we’ll dive deeper into Uxbridge’s current seven schools, and a bit of history about our public education system.

Conrad Boyce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos