SQI – Funding

Part 1 – Square Apple Institute Introduction
Part 2 – The Curriculum
Part 3 – The Funding Model

Listed below, are some possible funding sources to support INSE’s Square Apple Institute of Alternative Education Concept:

1.   Government Per Pupil Funding

  • Current per-pupil funding under Ford Government $12,246
  • Avg Kindergarten class sizes: 29 cap, avg 26
  • Primary grade class sizes (grades 1-4): 23 cap, avg 20
  • Elementary grade class sizes (grades 5-8): Max avg 24.5
  • Secondary grade class sizes (grades 9-12): Max avg 22

If we start at the secondary level, and cap classes at 15 at SAI, that’s 68% of ministry maximum avg so funding at 68% would be $8,327 per student

Use this formula for providing ministry approved curriculum for direct student enrollments.

This funding is of course not guaranteed because 1. Ontario does not support Charter School type education at this time, and 2. If Ontario were to adopt a system that supported per pupil funding for a school outside our public school boards, I wouldn’t want to see it as restrictive as Alberta’s system. I’ll agree with the system not making a profit, but as long as they support the curriculum, how we run the school itself would need to be more autonomous.

2.   Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL)

We can partner with local school boards and offer SAL programming to their students who qualify for SAL. These students would be fully funded by the local school boards while enrolled at SAI through this program.

With Ministry approval, it would be great if we could offer programming similar to that of the former Parkview and Mountain secondary schools, where students could also come to us on a temporary basis until their academics, mental, or physical state made them feel comfortable enough to transition back to their home school. The students would be funded by the local board during this time, but a timeline would be decided as to when they would have to return or their funding would revert to INSE’s responsibility.

3.   Rental Space / Sponsorships

All spaces within the school are either rented by the education specialists in each trade-oriented room from the Library (partnership with the city), Auto Shop (local business), health services from speech pathologists to abilities testing (local professionals), Theatre (local production company), etc. Rental spaces would be discounted to account for teaching lines.

We also imagine each room being sponsored by INSE partner businesses or families, to ensure their supplies/tools and upkeep never waiver.

4.   Fundraising / Philanthropy

From school and overall INSE fundraising, to philanthropists interested in donating to and supporting alternative education practices, our proven teaching methods and the healthy youth we graduate from our programming, will attract those looking for invaluable causes to support.

5.   INSE business and not-for profit structure

The goal is for this to run under the INSE umbrella, with the school fitting under the INSE Foundation (not unlike the HWDSB Foundation). Also, INSE itself as a structure that supports and partners with local small businesses for co-op, training, support, innovation, and is designed to be a for-profit social enterprise with all proceeds split between employees, community initiatives, and further support of the Square Apple Institute through the foundation.

The INSE Foundation would manage the rental spaces within the schools, but the buildings themselves would fall under Municipal ownership or that of community land trust, so those assets are not privately owned. A portion of proceeds from our partners within the school would perhaps also feed back into the school.

With assets such as the gym, theatre, kitchen, rentals for such things as weddings, funerals, faith services, conferences, best practice learning, tours, and day trips for other school and service provider, funding sources are vast. We could create entities within the school property for such things as plays/movies we put on, the animal sanctuary, and ideally rooms used as activity centres for all and especially special needs students from things like a train room, to bouncy castle/trampoline, instructor-led gym type spaces.

In attempting to have the space used as many hours a day, and as many days a week/year as possible, the revenue options could be endless.

6.   Student/Caregiver Expectations

Aside from providing in-house co-op, our students would also find jobs and would be required to pay for a portion of their education with work opportunities available to families as well. Both would also be required to volunteer so many hours, all in an effort to contribute to the cost of their education in ways that the entire INSE community benefits from.

As one example of jobs we could provide, we could turn one school space into a printing press, to help support our local community papers. We could create one combined paper with stories from different neighbourhood organization periodicals, with the students helping write stories, doing the layout, editing, printing, and delivery of the papers themselves with jobs we/I once had as youth delivering the Spectator gone to adults who can be up at very early hours to deliver newspapers nowadays.  

7.   Housing

Whether it’s in the building, or housing is acquired or built onsite or nearby, being able to offer ways to remove barriers for our families including and especially affordable housing, would be ideal.  Of course there are government funds available for housing costs, but ideally we would be able to offer space to our students/families first. Our kitchen could provide a lot of meals for these families also meaning partial meal costs form our residents are going back into keeping the facility and its programming running whether the price is just covering costs or a small profit that feeds back into the whole.

8.   Homeschooling Community

During my time as Trustee, I was able to spend some time talking with students, families, and curriculum providers from the homeschooling community. Through these discussions, I was able to gain a better understanding of this form of education and my opinions for its value as an education stream was changed significantly.

We would love to partner with homeschoolers, perhaps offering drop-in programming for them as well, and help them advocate for per-pupil funding. Perhaps, the drop-in programming could be ministry approved, fully funded, and available to any student whether home-schooled, full time in our school or another board, or not engaged in education at all. The classes would become a valuable reach out program to try to re-engage youth in education again and help them regain trust and find value in learning.

9. Innovation

From the creation and distribution of apps, to creating Indiegogo-type campaigns
ourselves with inventions inspired through our curriculum offerings, we’re not just
designing programming and processes that can be adopted in other school structures;
we’re innovating. New road construction practices, street pole powered auto governors for safer streets, or year round holiday lights that last more than a season. Our students are always looking at existing practices and devices and brainstorming how we can make the world a better place, while keeping their institution sustainable. 


We’ve tried to imagine various funding sources, and partnering with as many organizations and educational institutions as possible so that this model is sustainable, but we want to ensure most of all that the curriculum and programming remains locally developed and never caters to political will. We need to do what is best for students, our employees, and the greater community.

We are looking to build a personally inclusive program for persons with varying needs and those not engaged to their full potential in traditional educational programs. It’s a school for these students, but open to all. Kind of like the public system but instead of a system designed for students that do not struggle and inclusive to all, we have reversed that model. 

Below, is an example of the feedback we expect to hear from staff, students and families at Square Apple; not unlike what we heard from those engaged in our local Mountain and Parkview Secondary schools for students with various social-emotional challenges:

The above video is a great example of what we are looking to do here in Hamilton, with each of their rooms also specifically designed for the curriculum taught in the classroom including a room in this example, sponsored by CVS.

The above video is also similar to what we heard about Parkview when it was fighting to survive which when it closed, had over 200 community partners.

Below is another example of a special needs model to consider when designing our own school, and proof of the existence and success of similar types of schools around the world.

Kenneth Gordon Maplewood High School


Christopher describes Kenneth Gordon Maplewood as “a school of second choice.” “For the most part, parents and students aren’t here because they want to be here,” he says. “They’re here because they feel they have to be here.” That said, he is quick to add that “once you walk in our front door, you won’t want to leave.”

“The fact of the matter is,” says Christopher, “these are all bright kids, but they don’t see themselves as bright. They don’t see themselves as learners.” Families arrive often not knowing quite where to turn, and looking for an option that will not only support their learner, but also ease some of the challenges they’ve been experiencing at home.

Certainly, KGMS is unique, something that the students and families who attend are grateful for. Instruction is empathic, as is the entire environment of the school. The students who enrol enter a community of peers, one comprising students and staff who get them, who share their struggles, and who can relate to their perspectives on the world. “I have friends who like me for who I am,” said Theresa MacIntyre when she was a student in 2014. Her voice breaking, she added: “I feel like I’m wanted here.”

Here is another example of a system designed with special education at the forefront in the United Kingdom:


Other communities around the world have recognized and embraced the importance of options for students, and that inclusion at all cost is not the direction any school system should be striving for. 

Don’t believe me, give this book a go. There are others like it as well by professionals who have worked in these fields for long periods of time.

The Illusion of Full Inclusion (Kauffman/Hallahan) https://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Full-Inclusion-Comprehensive-Critique/dp/0890799954
I even have a copy if you wish to borrow it.

Inclusion is personal, so why aren’t the education offerings in our communities?

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