Education spending increases too small, budget critics charge
Class sizes will continue to grow, predicts Alberta Teachers' Association
The Alberta Teachers’ Association says with steadily climbing student numbers across the province the $200-million funding increase earmarked for schools in Thursday’s budget is too low.
"That's just holding pace with where we are now. This means we are going to fall behind again in the upcoming school year and that is not in the best interest of students,” said Frank Bruseker, president of Alberta Teachers' Association Local 38 in Calgary.
The government is earmarking more than $6.5 billion for Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the new budget — a 3.2-per cent increase over last year.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has been promised $995 million, while $460 million has been earmarked for the Calgary Catholic school board.
But Bruseker said the money will be entirely consumed by enrolment growth and there will likely be even larger class sizes in high schools and junior high schools.
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He said the funding increase would have to be closer to six per cent to make a difference.
Calgary Board of Education Chair Sheila Taylor said while she’s pleased there will be extra funding for enrolment growth — which is up to 4,000 students per year in the city’s public schools — the budget presents challenges in other areas.
“We've seen declining funding on an overall student basis and this budget is a similar type of budget, which means making do with a little bit less,” she said.
"It's early days for us and we do think this is going to be a challenging budget for us and we're crunching the numbers right now."
Taylor said trustees will have more to say about the budget next week.
The vice-president of external affairs for the Students' Association of Mount Royal University is upset about the level of post-secondary funding in the budget.
Missy Chareka said an increase of $32.5 million to create 2,000 new full-time spaces at provincial institutions doesn't replace what the government previously cut from post-secondary funding.
“It is still $65 million less than what we had for 2012 to 2013. So that's a little bit concerning. Actually it's quite concerning,” she said.
Chareka said the government needs to better acknowledge the importance of post-secondary education.