12,000 additional students to be funded; grant rate cuts reversed
School boards were provided with revised funding allocations and additional money after the new NDP government’s cabinet met for the first time last month. Premier Rachel Notley and Education Minister David Eggen announced that school boards will be provided with $103 million to ensure that enrolment growth is funded next year and that the grant rate cuts proposed in the March 26 budget will be reversed.
“By funding enrolment growth and restoring funding for transportation, inclusive education, First Nations, Métis and Inuit among other areas, we are helping to ensure that school authorities can make decisions that are in the best interest of the students in their communities,” Eggen said in a news release.
The new projections provided for school boards include a 1.8 per cent increase (over 2014/15) to base funding, a two per cent increase to class size grants and no change to any other grant rates. Over the course of the 2015/16 school year, boards can now expect to receive a total of $224 million or 3.9 per cent more than they received in 2014/15. School boards now have until June 30 to pass a budget for the next school year.
Alberta Teachers’ Association President Mark Ramsankar applauded the decision.
“The government is projecting that 12,000 more students will be added to classrooms next year, and Albertans made it clear in the election that those students must be funded,” he said.
Ramsankar is now calling on school boards to ensure that they do what it takes to ensure that the funding is used in a way that supports the classroom.
“Some school boards had already passed budgets that froze teaching positions and cut educational assistants and other support positions,” he said. “This new funding will have limited value if those boards don’t immediately revise budgets based on old data to ensure that added classroom supports are in place when schools open in September.”
Alberta’s legislature will reconvene July 11 to elect a new speaker, present the new government’s throne speech and pass interim supply bills to authorize government expenditures in the absence of a passed budget. A new provincial budget is expected to be passed in the fall. ❚