Classroom conditions unlikely to improve, Ramsankar says
As the new school year begins, evidence is emerging that rising student enrolment will result in more teaching positions across the province as a result of the NDP government’s announcement of more funding last May.
The Alberta government has released preliminary figures from a few school boards demonstrating how they will be allocating the $103 million funding boost.
Alberta Teachers’ Association President Mark Ramsankar is happy that the previous government’s cuts were reversed but expects that classroom conditions this year will not improve much over last year.
“We need to have a long-term strategy to bring down class sizes and to increase supports for students,” he said. “Last spring’s funding announcement acted like a vital tourniquet to stop the bleeding, but now we need to mend the wounds and then ensure that healthy conditions remain stable.”
Ramsankar is concerned that, given the current fiscal challenges for government, it may take some time for conditions in schools to improve. The government is expected to table a 2015 fiscal year budget in late October or early November.
Education Minister David Eggen said last week that he was pleased to see the restored funding going directly to support students, teachers and classes.
“In this time of careful planning and funding pressures in Alberta, we are prioritizing core funding for education,” he said. “I am proud of the work our schools and boards do to support those students who need a little extra support.”
The budget proposed by the PC government in March 2015 imposed cuts to a number of specific program grants and didn’t provide new per-pupil funding for the anticipated 12,000 new students expected in Alberta schools this fall.
An interim supply bill passed by the legislature in June reversed cuts and reinstated funding for all students, including a 1.8 per cent grant increase to base funding to cover the costs of teacher salary increases. ❚