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Growing Alberta School Districts Express Shared Concern

Tue, 21 Apr, 2015

News item: Growing Alberta School Districts Express Shared Concern

As 19 growing school districts representing approximately 65 per cent of students in Alberta, we have a shared concern about the significant effect the government’s 2015–2016 budget will have on student success and the overall education system in our province. We understand and support the goal of achieving a balanced budget and building long-term success for Alberta. However, the effect on education cannot be underestimated; we believe education is key to the overall success and future of our province.

According to provincial projections, there will be 12,000 additional students in Alberta next year and approximately 36,000 over the next three years. According to the provincial fiscal plan, this growth in student population is not, and will not, be funded. By not funding growth, we are effectively reducing the per pupil funding for every student while increasing class sizes. Growing districts are forced to attempt to provide the same level of service for more students with less funding. Student success is at risk under the current budget despite the honourable intent to protect front-line classroom teachers. Growing districts will be forced to make reductions to support services to schools while ultimately increasing teacher workload and at the same time, reducing the support for some of our most vulnerable students. These students will be further disadvantaged by increasing class sizes.

With this budget, trustees locally-elected to govern education have lost the flexibility to make the decisions that will minimize the negative impacts on their particular district. Specifically, the outlined framework hampers the boards’ ability to use their resources as they see fit to reduce the impact of these cuts and best meet student needs under difficult circumstances. We believe that the new fiscal strategy being applied to growing school districts by the province will have unacceptable negative short-term and long-term consequences for students and the effective functioning of Alberta’s public education system. For a number of years now in response to challenging education budgets, school boards have been living within a frugal fiscal framework and have already cut back in many areas. As growing districts, we ask the government to reconsider and to work with our school districts on a collaborative approach to restraint that will sustain student success, support student growth and provide enough autonomy and flexibility for local board officials to address the most pressing areas of concern for their districts.

For further information, please contact:

Brad Stromberg 
Media Relations 
Edmonton Public Schools 

Johnette Lemke
Black Gold Regional Schools

Bill Brunton
Chief Communications Officer
Calgary Board of Education

Tania Younker
Director, Communications
Calgary Catholic School District

Sandy Bexon
Communications Officer
Chinook’s Edge School Division

Lori Nagy
Manager of Media Relations & Community Relations Services
Edmonton Catholic Schools

Karen Sand
Director, Communication Services
Elk Island Public Schools

Megan McKenny
Fort McMurray Catholic Schools
780-799-5700 ext. 5022

Eldon Wyant
Board Chair
Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools

Karen Prokopowich
Board Chair
Grande Prairie Public School District #2357

Dave Price
Board Chair
Golden Hills School Division No. 75
403-934-5121 ext. 2013

Terry O’Donnell
Board Chair
Holy Spirit Catholic Schools

Jordi Weidman
Director, Strategic Planning & Communications
Parkland School Division

Haleigh Packer
Communications Officer and International Student Services Program Assistant
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools
403-343-1055 ext. 310147

Bev Manning
Board Chair
Red Deer Public Schools

Angela Spanier
Director of Communications
Rocky View Schools

Paula Power
Manager, Communication Services
St. Albert Public Schools

John Tomkinson
Board Chair
St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Schools

Larry Jacobs
Superintendent of Schools
Wolf Creek Public Schools