Yesterday, Finance Minister Robin Campbell presented the province’s budget. For months now, we anticipated a tough budget given Alberta’s current economic situation, but it doesn’t make the news about the cuts to education any easier.
It’s too early to determine what the exact impact of this budget will have on our District, but the reality is, we will have less money to educate our students. We already stretch our budgets very far to meet the needs of all students, and today’s announcement made that challenge an even greater one to navigate.
While we were pleased to learn that the 2015 budget will protect frontline teachers, we will not be receiving any funding for growth in enrolment. We’re projecting an increase of approximately 2,700 students next year. Simply put, we are being asked to program for an additional 2,700 kids without the allocation of dollars that usually come with each additional student. That means there will be added pressure on our schools and the supports we provide to classrooms across the District.
We’re encouraged by the government’s commitment to fund several new schools in some of our fastest growing neighbourhoods. The high demand for more schools and space is a significant ongoing challenge we’re dealing with. Unfortunately, at the same time, there was no indication that the government would fund any additional schools beyond the ones already announced. It will be 2 or 3 years before the new schools are open and we’ll continue to have accommodation issues.
Now more than ever, we need adequate, predictable and sustainable funding. This model is really the key to helping us move towards a future of greater financial certainty – that’s what we want to provide to our students and families. Our Board looks forward to seeing the Minister take action on his mandate to implement this model, and move from promises to results.
Children shouldn’t bear the brunt of volatile oil prices. The price of oil may drop, but the needs of our students endure. We will always be focused on helping them succeed and responding as best we can to the increasing diversity in our classrooms. I know that staff in our schools and departments will work hard to minimize the impact of the budget shortfall on our students. They deserve to benefit from an education that will help them become the leaders of tomorrow and engaged local and global citizens. We can’t forget that their success is tied to our province’s future. We have to invest in education today to ensure our communities thrive and flourish in the decades to come.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at how this budget will impact our District. When we have more details, we will share that information as soon as we have it. We want to be open and transparent with our students, staff, parents and community partners, keeping you well-informed of our challenges and how we plan to move ahead.
Questions or comments? Email your Trustee to share your thoughts.