CALGARY – The Calgary Board of Education is telling parents the Alberta government’s budget will significantly impact Calgary students and their learning.

The CBE said it’s receiving $32 million less this school year than last, but after crunching the numbers and considering all factors, the board expects it will be on the hook for $48 million this school year.

“These unexpected changes will be disruptive to our students, their families and our staff,” said Marilyn Dennis, CBE board chair.

The board acknowledges base funding per student, which represents 66 per cent of its budget remains unchanged.

CBE said the province is funding enrolment growth at $29 million, but it’s cutting three grants totalling $85 million, partially replacing the cuts with a one-time transition grant of $24 million.

“This funding cut comes despite our enrolment increase by nearly 2,400 students, the equivalent of four large elementary schools,” said Dennis.

The CBE said it anticipated receiving the same amount of money as last year and it will be challenging to make adjustments in the middle of the school year.

Dennis said all options are being explored, including larger class sizes, service cuts, staff layoffs, the use of reserves and fee increases.

CBE chief financial officer Brad Grundy said current teachers could be facing job cuts, but the number of positions is not yet known.

“It means overcrowded classrooms, it means there’s no money for books, technology, other resources. It’s significant and it means kids are going to go without,” said Barbara Silva, communications director for Support our Students Alberta, an education advocacy organization.

'$200 less per student'

ATA president Jason Schilling said school boards will now receive $200 less per student than they received in the last school year, an amount equivalent to a two per cent funding cut.

"Class composition will continue to be a big problem and one-on-one attention suffers as a result," Schilling said in a statement. "The redirection of class size money means less accountability to keep class sizes small and school boards underfunding for special needs by about $85 million won’t be getting relief. If this government believes in inclusion, then they need to fund it better."

Silva said the UCP government is telling families they are not interested in public education being successful.

“School fees are already something that cripple a lot of families, we have an overdependency on fundraising, we have an overdependency on casinos, which already can be an exploitative way to raise funds.

“When the minister of education says school boards are going to have the ability to increase fees mid year, what is the impact that’s going to have on families? Those are things we really need to start thinking about,” she said.

The group launched a letter-writing campaign Tuesday, encouraging parents to email the premier, education minister and local MLA to express their disappointment with the budget.

Colin Aitchison, the press secretary to Alberta Education Miniser Adriana LaGrange, responded on Twitter Tuesday, tweeting that "within their $1.2B budget servicing 130 K students @yyCBEdu should be able to find efficiences without negatively impacting the classroom. After all, this board signed into an unfavourable 20-year lease that will cost them $6M more than it would've cost to purchase the building."