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Government makes education priority in tough fiscal times

“The government made education a priority in a tough budget – it could have been worse,” said Alberta School Boards Association President Jacquie Hansen of the 2011-12 provincial budget.  That said, Hansen warned services to students will be cut because of this budget.

Schools’ core funding: the base instruction grant will go up by 4.4 per cent. “This means we will be able to honor our salary commitments to teachers and we will have some flexibility to work with the other staff who work with students,” said Hansen.  Staff costs represent 70 to 80 per cent of school board budgets.

Cuts to other grants will result in cuts to services for students. “For example: funding for AISI – a program that promotes innovation to improve student learning – is being cut by 50 per cent,” said Hansen. As a result some school boards may face over 3 per cent in cuts to their local budgets.

“As local governments, school boards understand the responsibility to the taxpayer in a tough fiscal period for this province. In the next days, school boards will run the numbers; talk with their communities and make the decisions they are elected to make about our priorities for students and student learning,” said Hansen.

The ASBA sounded a warning about the need for new schools and repairs to old schools. “We have students attending school in community centers. Over 42 per cent of our schools were built more than 50 years ago. If we don’t repair them; we will be rebuilding – and that’s going to be even more expensive in the long run.”

For more information:
Suzanne Lundrigan, ASBA Communications at 1.1.780.819.1361 or 1.780.451.7122.