The word independent means that the school operates under a different mandate than a government operated public school. An independent school is created when a group of citizens with similar educational goals apply to the Alberta Ministry of Education for approval to operate a school. The school is incorporated under the provincial societies act and receives its authority to operate from the Minister of Education.
An independent school is governed by a board that is chosen from among the school society membership. In most cases these people are elected by the membership. This board is accountable to the Minister of Education and to the membership for operating the school. Often the board creates subcommittees to assist in maintaining the facility, overseeing finances, supervising programs and staff, and assisting in fund-raising or organizing other volunteer activities necessary to the operation of the school.
As a rule parents, teachers, and students have a high degree of commitment as a result of exercising their right to be in an independent school. Many parents are involved in the operation of the school.
The school society and the parents have a strong sense of ownership because they can participate in the operation of an independent school. They have a choice and a voice. They can ensure that teachers and curriculum stay true to a particular mission and vision, while striving for excellence according to provincial standards. They believe it is a natural obligation of parents to be involved in the education of their children.
Many parents believe that they have a duty to be responsible for their children’s education. Others believe that a large educational system is not responsive to their input and can take a long time to respond to parental concern. Some express displeasure because their children experience difficulties within a school system. Other parents react to permissive values or what they perceive as a lack of discipline in a school system.

Independent schools allow children to be educated within a parentally controlled environment. The school may have a particular academic emphasis, special needs focus, pedagogical philosophy like Waldorf or Montessori, or faith orientation that is compatible with the value system of the parents. Having this grassroots governance is essential to an independent school.

No. They sustain and enrich the diversity that exists among the citizens of Alberta. By providing alternatives to mainstream education, they strengthen democracy and multiculturalism. Independent schools are free to be responsive to parental choice and voice.
Variety is part of our multicultural Canadian and Alberta heritage. Independent schools reflect this diversity, nurture it, and preserve particular traditions and values. Integration, cohesion, and strengthening of the common good can take place within diversity. Uniformity is not a prerequisite for integration and cohesion. Given the long history of independent schooling in Alberta it is obvious that they have not caused division.
Systems of education actually encourage choice. In the public system, magnate schools may attract students with a particular interest like fine arts, language, athletics, or faith affiliation. In Alberta, for example, denying a full range of choices would mean eliminating public schools like Nellie McClung, an all girls schools. Removing educational choices could jeopardize the 28,000 students in French immersion programs or the over 3000 students in Francophone schools and 125,000 students in the predominantly Catholic separate school system. The elimination of these options would be detrimental to diversity and would erode or undermine civil liberties. Independent schools affirm that liberty is important in a pluralistic province. It is healthier for government to maximize the freedom of opportunity than to stifle it.
This is a belief held by some people. Those citizens who operate their own schools believe that they too uphold and support democratic ideals. All school programs in Alberta are expected to uphold the common good enjoyed in a democracy. Monoculture stifles democracy while diversity enriches it. Only a totalitarian government would erase minority interests and identities.
So far this is not the case. Ontario, Quebec, have a Roman Catholic school system in addition to “common” schools. Other countries that permit a variety of schools have not encountered this problem. Alberta has a separate school system, a Francophone school system, charter schools, and independent schools in addition to the public “common” system.
Not necessarily. All schools must abide by Alberta Learning standards. Teachers must have the required credentials and professional certificates. Studies done on Alberta’s independent schools suggest that their existence improves the quality of schooling in general by creating an element of competition.
Apparently various faith groups operate 60 % of Alberta’s independent schools.Alberta’s public system includes approximately 127,000 students in clearly defined faith-based schools. These schools overtly state that their faith allegiances are to permeate the entire atmosphere and culture of their schools.

All schools deal in ideas and values. They mold and shape children. Although Ministry of Learning schools are supposedly “neutral”, teachers still impart values to students, political, moral and quasi-religious ideas. Every textbook is a set of ideas telling what is worth learning. Every teacher is part of the curriculum and brings ideas, values, and experiences into the classroom. All teaching involves human influence and imparting of various worldviews. For groups to live together, society needs to nurture respect and toleration for diversity and to impart compassion for one another. Pretending that faith allegiances are not part of life would be spurious.

All schools in Alberta should encourage respect for all people as well as permit a sense of individual and group identity. The teaching of hatred is ruled out by “the permission to operate” and the Minister of Education has the power to investigate any questionable teaching practices in all schools in the province, including independent schools.
For the year 2009 the number will be approximately 11,272 students and 3,000 in private ECS centres.
The enrolment is decreasing as several independent schools have merged with public jurisdictions through alternative program agreements.
Children in Early Childhood Services (Kindergarten) receive the same funding as children in the public systems. Children in Designated Special Education Private Schools receive the same amount for their instruction as similar coded children in public schools.
Children in grades 1- 9: $3,418
Grades 10 – 12: $97.66/CEU
The money received from the government covers approximately 40% of the expenditure per student in the province. The money is used for instructional costs.
In 1999, the average operating cost per student in Alberta was $6207.
Capital costs were an additional $767 per student.
The provincial cost was $6,974 per student.
In 2000/2001 the cost was over $7,000.
Grade 1 – 9 independent school children received $2458.
Instructional, support and capital costs. Instructional costs include salaries for principal, teachers and instructional support staff, learning resources and supplies, and equipment and furnishings used in the instructional program.

Support costs include plant operations and maintenance, board governance, office administration, and student transportation.

Capital costs include building projects, building quality restoration program expenditures and debt carrying costs on school buildings.

Tuition varies significantly. Some schools may charge an individual fee; others may have a family rate. Current information is unavailable. Tuition is estimated at $5,000 to $6,000 per family annually. A few school may be as low as $2,500 per year. Other schools may charge $5,000 to $6,000 per child. A few may charge more than $8,000 or $10,000 per child depending on program enrichment and extracurricular activities. Boarding costs are extra.
The government of Alberta repeatedly recognizes that independent schools serve the public interest and the government believes in ensuring equal opportunity for all children to receive an adequate education. Independent schools are not supported equally since parents typically pay two thirds of their children’s educational costs in addition to paying their regular school taxes. Since it is the Ministry of Education’s responsibility to ensure effective education for all children, and it is the children and not the school that benefits, the government realizes that spending a portion of public moneys makes good sense. Otherwise the government would have to pay the full costs of their instruction and all additional costs. In essence, every dollar that independent schools contribute to education is one that the government and the taxpayers do not pay. Millions of dollars are saved annually. When including capital costs and differences in operating costs, the saving would average close to $4,500 per student.
No, more than seventy percent are from families whose household income falls below the national average.
The same as public school teachers. The Professional Development and Certification branch approves the teaching certificates in independent schools as well as public.
Ministry of Education has a monitoring program that requires audits, annual reports and three year plans, verification of all teaching credentials, and on site visits. The schools are required to meet the same program goals as the public system and the student performance is tested just like it is in the public schools.
The school authority, the teachers and the local authority develop a curriculum that meets the Goals of the Alberta Program of studies. Ministry of Education ensures that the programs are compatible. And the outcomes are tested by the grade 3, 6, and 9 provincial achievement tests and the grade 12 provincial exams to ensure that the curriculum and the graduates meet the standards.
Are there resources for them? Yes. Most independent schools accommodate general special needs students and high needs students to the degree that they have resources and programs available. They receive 40% less funding for general special needs children so it is understandable that they are not always able to meet the needs of every child.

There are seventeen independent schools devoted to educating special needs students. These schools are known as Designated Special Education Private Schools (DSEPS). They serve many of the mild to moderate and severe needs children. The parents of these children believe that their child’s needs are better met in these specialized environments. Often parents and children are referred to these schools by public boards.