ATA releases FOIP documents that contradict Government funding claims

Release Date  2020 02 10

Documents obtained by the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) under a Freedom of Information request reveal that, despite government assurances of a funding freeze, school boards are slated to receive $136 million less funding for the 2019/20 school year, compared to 2018/19.

“The premier and other government officials have painstakingly attempted to argue that operational funding has been maintained, but they pointed to the government budget document that uses a different fiscal year-end. These documents, from the government itself, show the extent of the cuts. By forcing us to FOIP this data, I’m convinced they did not want the public to know the extent of education cuts.”

- Jason Schilling, ATA president

Combined with an increased enrolment of 13,000 students, the cuts amount to a 4 per cent cut in per-pupil funding, effective September 2019.

While school boards received additional funding in some areas to accommodate student enrolment growth, a number of significant grants were simultaneously cut, including the class size initiative, classroom improvement fund, and school and transportation fees reduction grant. A one-time transition grant was introduced to replace some of the cut grants, but its $153 million value was much less than the $428 million lost through grant cuts.

The full extent of this shifting of grants was not clearly known until the results of this Freedom of Information request were received.

“Our schools and teachers are being continually asked to do more with less. These documents clearly show how much more and how much less. Across the province, in clear undeniable numbers, we are seeing 13,000 more students and a $136 million cut in funding.”

- Jason Schilling, ATA president

School jurisdiction funding profiles are released with the budget outlining the provincial funding each school board can expect to receive in the upcoming school year.

For comparison purposes, these funding profiles normally contain data from the previous school year. That was not the case for Budget 2019. A year-over-year comparison of provincial funding was not previously available from government sources.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.

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The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.