Calgary Board of Education faces significant budget shortfall
Officials with the Calgary Board of Education say that the organization is about $35M in the red and it may need to resort to drastic measures to come up with the shortfall.
The information came out during a regular meeting with trustees on Wednesday that said because of a 2.7 percent drop in funding from the province, they’ll need to come up with a lot of extra funds to keep service at regular levels.
To do that, the CBE could resort to cutting dozens of jobs, including administrative workers, custodians and support workers like educational assistants, lunch room supervisors, IT support staff and psychologists.
Lois Robb, chairperson of the CBE staff association, says that the cuts expected to come from the shortfall are significant, especially when it comes to staff.
“Some of the positions are very highly specialized and there just won’t be positions for those people to go into. We’ll have to see over the next month or so what vacancies might be for those people who have been identified.”
Robb says they’ve seen nine straight years of funding issues at the CBE.
“The government has at least funded for enrollment growth which is a big help because if they didn’t the impacts would be worse than they are. The thing is that is compounds over time and it becomes more and more of an issue each year.”
Alexander Shevalier, president of the Calgary & District Labour Council, which represents custodial staff in the schools, says that there are fewer custodians to take care of the schools in the city, so they aren’t as clean as they should be.
Students with special needs who require support staff will also be left in the lurch.
“What this budget does is it cuts those supports throughout the school day, so the effect would be felt in the classroom. If the students feel they don’t have the supports they need, it will take up a lot more of the teacher’s time.”
Shevalier says that year over year, the number of positions they’ve had to cut has remained the same and that’s not a good thing, especially because more and more schools have been added each year.
Parents also say they are concerned about the budget shortfall.
“It’s a little concerning as a parent. We go to parent councils and you listen to your principals talk about where their shortfalls are and where they have to cut things like support staff which are needed in schools,” said Amanda Jones.
Jones says that any cut to support staff could affect her personally because her son in Grade 7 has a learning disability and has needed help over the years.
She adds that news of more cuts year after year is tough to hear.
“You want your kids to succeed and have all the support they need. Not everyone needs the extra help but when they need it, it’s great that it’s there.”
Trustees are scheduled to vote on the new budget on Tuesday.
(With files from Ina Sidhu)