$15 million will go back to schools to help with recent cuts
Despite recent claims that the Calgary Board of Education is struggling to accommodate the nearly 1,300 new students enrolled this year, board officials are saying this isn't true.
At a public information meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18, Naomi Johnson, chief superintendent of schools, said the board is happy to accommodate the extra projection of students. A report released by the CBE said the difference between the amount of students estimated to enroll and the actual enrolled amount is still within the industry standard of excellence.
"We're grateful for the additional students," said Richard Peter, chief communications officer at the CBE.
He said that schools have the necessary amount of teachers needed to accommodate the extra pupils. Principals look at the amount of students who enroll in their school each year and are able to apply for more teachers in early September if necessary.
Although the board cannot be certain on the reasons so many students enrolled this year, it is being attributed to the high rate at which Calgary is growing.
According to reports by the board, schools are meeting the provincial recommended class size in grades 4-12. However, class sizes are slightly too large in grades 1-3, as well as kindergarten. Those classes are being projected at 19.5 students this year, 2.5 students more than recommended. In fact, out of all students, grades 1-3 saw the highest enrollment numbers this year.
A one-time funding from the province could act as relief for the extra amount of students this year. On Tuesday, the board agreed to send $15 million they will receive from the province directly to schools on a pupil-by-pupil basis. Once received, the principals will be able to use the money in ways best suited for their school.
"It's a short-term fix, and it's welcome, but this is a really interesting position to put us in," said CBE chair Pat Cochrane.
The board agrees that this money will help now, but they are in need of a long-term fix.
"The key now is, will that funding be sustained over time?" said Jenny Regal, president of Calgary Public Teachers ATA Local 38.
In the recent provincial campaign, Premier Alison Redford made promises to give back to schools the $107 million that was cut from the February budget.
"That was the understanding that she shared during her campaign, and she needs to make sure that her government follows through with it," said Regal.
Regal said that long-term funding is necessary to "provide ongoing programming with any sort of assurance that the rug is not going to be pulled from under you again."
She also said the long-term funding is needed to provide teachers with contracts and ensure that they are not let go after this one-time funding is used.