In today’s budget announcement the Alberta Government announced 8.4 billion dollars in education funding, keeping their commitment to fund for growth. This budget is up from 8.2 billion dollars from last year. Funding enrolment growth 2.2% (approx 15, 000 students) but this does not fund for inflation and only covers the instructional cost.
Also announced today was the construction and maintenance of 20 new or modernized schools building through the capital plan, funding for which comes through Infrastructure.
There are no real surprises in todays budget. This government, prior to the 2015 election committed to fund for growth when the previous government had identified education funding cuts. That news was welcomed then, and while funding for growth is important, Support Our Students Alberta has been waiting for a larger vision and commitment to public education from this government.
The reality remains for many Alberta students, of over crowded classrooms, crumbling infrastructure, under resourced libraries and staff, long bus rides and inequities cause by fundraising required to fill funding gaps.
We can no longer be satisfied with maintaining the status quo. This will be this governments last budget before the provincial election. Next year, Albertans will be voting largely based on what visions are presented to them. Support Our Students Alberta is still waiting for a vision that recommits to public education.
We are waiting for a budget:
- That focusses public dollars on public schools – Alberta government diverts approx: $260, 000, 000 to private schools.
- That eliminates barriers such as fees and application procedures for public schools – Strengthen the regulations around Bill 1 an Act to Reduce School Fees, so that access to education programs is equitable and not based on other factors such as socio economic.
- That fills funding gaps all too often by user fees. – For example transportation fees and needs vary widely across the province and the funding model needs to reflect the differences in the needs between rural boards and urban boards.
- Creates a framework matrix for superintendent salaries – Similar to other jurisdictions.
- Collaborates with other ministries (Alberta Health Services & Children’s Services) to meet the growing health needs of children in schools. – Mental health of youth in Alberta is a huge priority and concern for all involved
We will continue to advocate for a full review of the current funding model so that schools no longer need to compete for students to pad their budgets.
We will be watching and listening very closely over the next year to the promises made in the hopes of winning your votes. We hope Albertans will demand more than consistent funding, but instead call for the kind of funding that can support and promote an equitable and accessible public education for all Alberta students.