Teachers and school boards not happy with UCP government's new budget
The Alberta Teachers' Association and many school boards in Alberta say the UCP governments cuts in their new budget will impact many students. (File)
CALGARY -- While many school boards are expecting to see more students enrolling next year, administrators say the continued lack of provincial funding will hurt them.
The United Conservative Party released Budget 2020 on Thursday and said it would be cutting funding from post-secondary institutions and wouldn't be increasing any of the amounts allotted for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
The University of Calgary says, in a release, that the new budget will reduce their funding by about six per cent from 2019 and could result in further job, spending and program losses.
Following the UCP government's first budget a few months ago, the U of C cut 250 positions and implemented a hiring freeze, introduced limits on travel, events and advertising initiatives, reduced plans for maintenance and upgrades and cancelled IT projects or delayed purchasing new equipment.
"We recognize the ongoing austerity of the current economic climate in Alberta and we will continue to do our part to meet the fiscal challenges presented in Budget 2020," said Dr. Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary, in a release. “We will share our plan to balance the 2020-21 budget with the campus community following deliberations with our Board of Governors this spring.”
McCauley also said Budget 2020 could lead to further positions being lost at the school.
The University of Lethbridge, in a media availability on Friday, said their budget has been cut by 6.6 per cent under the UCP government, or by about $7 million.
Following the cuts last year, administrators at the school decided to hike tuitions by seven per cent and student fees by about five per cent.
Given the new reductions in funding, staff say they hope to come up with some savings and avoid job losses through retirement and attrition, but it's likely that school will also need to lay off workers.
Other school boards, such as the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Rocky View School Division (RVS) also say they will be struggling to make ends meet in the new school year.
The CBE says their enrolment growth is expected to be 2,300 students while RVS expects to see about 800 new students in 2020/21.
Both boards say Budget 2020 won't give them the money they need to cover these increases.
"This reduction in per-student funding will have an impact," the CBE said in a media release Thursday. "We continue to review how to best deliver programs and services within the funding we receive. Our first priority is always to support students and their learning."
Both the CBE and RVS say they will be reviewing the changes to the province's funding framework and will learn more about the impact at meetings scheduled for later this year.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Teachers' Association says the Budget 2020 cuts in funding will result in larger class sizes and fewer supports for students.
"Teachers are struggling to meet student needs with inadequate support for their work," said ATA president Jason Schilling in a release. "Teachers cannot fill the gaps any longer."
Schilling says Budget 2020 will also result in more costs being put onto parents.
"With the last budget, we had to (formally request private information) to truly understand the totality of the cuts. I'm worried that the most troublesome details of this budget are again being obscured."
The ATA says it will also need time to fully analyze the new budget and expects to release further details of its impact in the coming weeks.