Funding Mechanisms, Cost Drivers, and the Distribution of Education Funds in Alberta: A Case Study

  • Dean Neu
  • Alison Taylor


This article examines the impact that the 1994 funding changes introduced by the Alberta government have had on the Calgary Board of Education (CBE)—the largest urban board in Alberta and one of the largest boards in Canada. Starting from a critical financial analysis perspective we ather, examine, and recalculate key historical financial data pertaining to the CBE, contextualizing these data through the use of supplementary nonfinancial archival materials. Our analysis highlights the impact that funding changes have had on the CBE, but also indirectly tells us something about the impact on other school boards in the province, because the total amount of per-student education funding has remained relatively constant. More generally, the analysis illustrates how funding mechanisms can be and are used to govern from a distance and how seemingly neutral accounting/funding techniques function to distribute resources among different school boards. By drawing attention to these distributional effects, the current study makes visible the power of largely invisible funding mechanisms in the sphere of public education.