Documents the Alberta Teachers’ Association says they received through a Freedom of Information Requests reveal that Alberta school boards are expected to receive $136 million less in funding in the next school year.
The ATA says that these cuts will happen despite government assurances of a funding freeze.
“The premier and other government officials have painstakingly attempted to argue that operational funding has been maintained, but they pointed to the government budget document that uses a different fiscal year-end,” said Jason Schilling, ATA president in a release.
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“These documents, from the government itself, show the extent of the cuts. By forcing us to FOIP this data, I’m convinced they did not want the public to know the extent of education cuts.”
According to the ATA, the funding cuts are coupled with an increased enrolment of 13,000 students, amounting to a 4% cut in per-pupil in funding, effective September 2019.
“While school boards received additional funding in some areas to accommodate student enrolment growth, a number of significant grants were simultaneously cut, including the class size initiative, classroom improvement fund, and school and transportation fees reduction grant,” said a release from ATA.
Colin Aitchison, press secretary for the Minister of Education says that this is not the case.
“Budget 2019 was extremely clear, we have honoured our commitments to Albertans and maintained education funding at $8.223 billion, equal to last year’s budget, and the base instruction rate for each student remains the same,” said Aitchison in a statement to Daily Hive.
“We are actively working towards a new funding model for the 2020-21 school year which will better manage system growth, provide funding predictability and ensure funds are directed to the classroom.”
He says that it is normal for program-specific funding to vary year to year.
“Total education funding remains the same, and enrolment growth was accounted for,” said Aitchison.
ATA President Jason Schilling says, however, that “schools and teachers are being continually asked to do more with less,” with the documents outlining the exact numbers.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association serves as an advocate for 46,000 teachers, and works to safeguard standards of professional practice.