Provincial Budget Challenges
The provincial education budget was announced by Alberta Education on October 24. On Friday, October 25, the details of that budget were shared with school divisions.
While the overall provincial funding for education has remained the same, funding historically allocated to class size and classroom improvement has been reallocated to support student enrollment growth across the province. As a result, Foothills School Division will experience a reduction in funding and will face higher deficits than originally planned.
In order to maintain overall provincial funding, class size funding and classroom improvement funding have been bundled together into a one-time transitional grant. This new grant is less than we have received from those two funding streams in the past.
Foothills School Division Superintendent Christopher Fuzessy says, “We will be engaging with our stakeholders for their input once a detailed review of the 2019 Provincial Budget is complete and we understand it’s impact on Foothills School Division’s current and future budgets. We must include our students, staff team and families in decisions moving forward as we strive to maintain our current priority of student success while reducing the impact of these budget constraints. This will require some difficult decisions, though I am confident that by working together we will be able to develop the best path forward with our students in mind.”
We have also lost a Fee Reduction Grant that the Province had provided when they removed the ability for school boards to charge fees. Foothills School Division will receive a one-time grant of $2.8 million to help us transition to next year. School board administration may need to consider beginning the process to reintroduce school fees for the next school year to offset the loss of this provincial fee revenue and help with budget constraints.
We will be carefully considering all budgetary options to address the shortfall for the remainder of this and the 2020 – 2021 school years. The funding shortfall announced in the provincial education budget will ultimately affect students, classroom sizes, programs and staffing. As the communities in Foothills School Division continue to grow, we are experiencing more complexity in our classrooms with students and teachers needing additional supports. Our priority is to find solutions that will have the least impact on the delivery of high-quality education to our students and to minimize financial burdens to the families who partner with us.