The provincial government has made slight upward adjustments to several of the grants that will be paid to school boards in 2011/12 to match the increase in teacher salaries.
When the Funding Manual for School Authorities was released concurrently with the provincial budget on February 24, the Base Instruction and Class Size grants were set to increase by 4.4 per cent in 2011/12. Subsequently, Statistics Canada confirmed that Alberta Average Weekly Earnings (AAWE) had increased by 4.54 per cent over the 2010 calendar year. Under the terms of the five-year framework agreement concluded in 2007, teacher salary increases for the 2011/12 school year are directly linked to the increase in AAWE. As teacher salaries are the major cost driver for both base instruction and class size reduction, the province adjusted these two grant rates accordingly.
While the Base Instruction grant is the largest single grant transfer to school boards, the marginal increase in this grant rate will do little to address the financial difficulties currently facing the province’s school boards. Because other grants have been eliminated, frozen or cut, overall funding transfers to boards in 2011/12 will not keep up with increased costs, and in some cases will actually be below this year’s levels.
Specifically, for 2011/12, funding for the Relative Cost of Purchasing Goods and Services Adjustment (RCPA), Stabilization grant and Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) has been reduced by 50 per cent. Funding for Grades 4–6 Class Size, Enrolment Growth/Decline, Enhanced ESL/Francisation, and Intra-Jurisdiction Distance has been discontinued. All other funding rates have been frozen.