Calgary public school trustee expects staff cuts

A school board trustee is warning parents to expect fewer people working in Calgary's public school system.

CBE predicts more students in the fall, can't avoid pay hikes

 A school board trustee is warning parents to expect fewer people working in Calgary’s public school system.

Calgary Board of Education trustees met Monday to discuss the impact of the provincial budget, which was announced last week.

Alberta's Minister of Finance Doug Horner will take part in a CBC event on March 14 from noon until 1 p.m.

The minister will take calls from listeners about the budget on the CBC Radio program Alberta at Noon until 12:30 p.m. The conversation will then move online for a web chat until 1 p.m.

Albertans can follow the chat and ask questions on our website

The provincial government set aside $6.1 billion in operating and property tax support to public and separate school boards across the province, an amount on par with last year.

But chair Pat Cochrane said the board had been promised a two per cent funding increase.

"We may not have as many people working with your kids next year. When 80 per cent of your budget is people and you're down on your budget. You've got to look to the people to make a balanced budget," said board chair Pat Cochrane.

The school board sets its own budget in May.

CBE expect 3,000 new students

In a recent letter to parents, Calgary Board of Education superintendent Naomi Johnson said school officials are still considering the impact of the budget.

"As we examine the details, we see that the impact on the Calgary Board of Education is worse than many other school districts in the province," she wrote.

"According to Alberta Education calculations, the CBE will have less funding from the government next year than we do in the current year. The decrease is made worse by cost increases that cannot be avoided. By way of one example, grid movement or time-based increases in salary for unionized employees will cost the system more than $10 million. The decreases happen in a year when we expect to welcome 3,000 new students."

The provincial government also eliminated the $41-million Alberta Initiative for School Improvement, a program that encouraged teachers and parents to think of creative ways to improve education. Its budget was cut in half in 2011 and has now been eliminated completely.

The budget did set aside new capital money to build schools — $503 million — which it says will pay for the construction of 50 new schools and the modernization of 70 more.

But the province has stressed there will be no new money for teachers, who have been without a contract since August.

Even though the province will see thousands of new students and new schools, the finance minister said it will be up to school boards to make it work.