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Joint Statement on the impact of the provincial budget

Fri, 8 Nov, 2019

News item: Budget statement November 2019

Edmonton Public Schools’ first priority is, and will always be, our students. Regardless of where you are in our city, our staff strive each and every day to provide the best learning environments for our 105,000 students. We appreciate there is some unease surrounding the effect the budget, which was recently tabled by the provincial government, will have for our school division.

We’ve been very public with the news that Edmonton Public Schools is facing a funding shortfall of $34.4 million for this school year. This comes because three crucial grants were eliminated by the province. While there is a one-time transitional grant, it covers only one-third of the funding we have lost in the three grants.

The grant is from what the province is calling a one-time transition fund, so we expect this money will not be available next year. The province has also indicated the education budget is now frozen for four years. If the budget is frozen while our student enrolment continues to grow, our shortfall will grow even more. This year we grew by another 3,000 students, the ninth year in a row we’ve seen this kind of increase.

Edmonton Public Schools has a modest surplus to cushion the shortfall this year, but it will not be enough to make up the shortfall, nor will we have surplus for future years. For this school year, we are committed to maintaining current staffing levels and minimizing disruption and impact on the classroom. 

But we must be frugal in our spending and be the best stewards of taxpayer dollars. So, we are taking the following immediate actions:

  • Put in place a hiring freeze for our Central departments
  • Put in place a new approval process for the hiring of school positions
  • Eliminate non-essential out-of-town travel and professional development for staff
  • Reduce spending on external contractors to provide student assessments by $1 million
  • Reduce spending from our District’s Equity fund by $1.5 million

Edmonton Public Schools’ Board of Trustees will be looking at all funding options, as well, which might include passing along mid-year transportation fee increases to families. Any decisions made will be shared with parents. 

Know that we are doing everything we can to preserve supports to the children and families we serve. Despite having to make hard decisions in a fiscally challenging time, our students remain our top priority.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Edmonton Public Schools Trustee.

Darrel Robertson, Superintendent of Schools 

Trisha Estabrooks, Board Chair, Edmonton Public Schools