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Board expresses concerns over budget and proposed agreement with teachers

Fri, 15 Mar, 2013

Board expresses concerns over budget and proposed agreement with teachers

At a media availability on Friday afternoon, Sarah Hoffman, Board Chair of Edmonton Public Schools, communicated the Board’s perspective on the budget and the tentative agreement between the Government and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Edmonton Public Schools will face a revenue shortfall of at least $3 million for the remainder of this year and $29 million for the 2013-2014 school year, based on the reductions to revenue and with no changes to enrolment.  On top of the revenue shortfall, the District will also be facing increased staff costs. For teachers, these costs will include annual increments and benefits, which are not funded as part of the proposed agreement. This revenue shortfall, when combined with increased fixed costs, will have a significant impact on the services the District is able to provide students.

“By all accounts, this shortfall is a conservative estimate, and could end up being far worse. We know this proposed agreement will only exacerbate the financial difficulties we face and we will not be able to sustain our current level of service,” continued Board Chair Hoffman. Unlike the December agreement proposed by the Minister, through which the Government would have funded all of the cost increases, school boards are now being asked to shoulder more of the costs.

“We certainly have some serious concerns about the proposed agreement,” said Board Chair Hoffman. “We have no guarantee that the Government’s commitment to fund staff cost increases will materialize.  Our Board does not find this very reassuring, so we need to be prepared to cover all of this cost ourselves.”

The Board also considers the agreement to have a long term negative impact on the ability of parents, community members and school boards to ensure decisions reflect local concerns. As well, the agreement brushes aside more than a century of local decision making and the role of school boards in reflecting the needs of local communities and students.

“Our Board is worried that we have been put in a position that we cannot possibly hope to fund or fulfill the agreement we have been asked to support.”