School boards call on parties for funding commitment ahead of provincial election
Trustees from school boards across Alberta have united in an effort to have all political parties commit cash to the classroom for the years to come.
Representatives from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) were joined on Scotsman’s Hill by members of several rural and francophone school boards on Monday to demonstrate the expected influx of students next year. A similar event was jointly held in Edmonton.
According to the trustees, an estimated 15,000 students - enough to fill 75 per cent of the seats of the Scotiabank Saddledome - will join Alberta’s school system for the 2019/2019 school year and whichever party forms Alberta’s next government will need to support the influx.
“It is imperative that each one of those 15,000 students be funded,” said Marilyn Dennis, vice-chair of the CBE. “As a group of diverse school boards, metro, urban and rural, we each face different challenges should the next government not provide funding for growth in all areas.”
The leaders of the two front-running parties responded to the pleas of the trustees on Monday.
“We will maintain or increase funding, we will seek to reduce administrative spending in the education system to push those dollars out to the frontlines,” said Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, during an announcement at the Calgary Jewish Academy in southwest Calgary. “We will also do an audit of what happened to the extra money to reduce class sizes.”
Kenney unveiled the UCP’s education platform on Monday and outlined the need address declining test scores as well as the ‘math crisis’ he says exists in Alberta’ education system
NDP leader Rachel Notley maintained that she, unlike her opponent, had no plans to cut funding. “People, Mr. Kenney included, who think that you can freeze education funding without significantly cutting the quality of education received by our kids and our schools, are not being straight up.”
Notley, who made an announcement at Telus SPARK on Monday regarding child care, stated that an NDP government would provide funds to help with the enrolment increases.
With files from CTV’s Shaun Frenette