A provincial funding shortfall may mean the loss of one teaching position from every public school in Calgary, warns the teachers' union.
The Calgary Board of Education is considering chopping up to 165 full-time teaching positions, which officials hope will be covered by resignations and retirements.
But Jenny Regal, chair of the Alberta Teachers' Association local 38, said with increased enrollment, losing staff would mean students will suffer.
"Students are going to lose because there are less certificated teachers in front of students this year and that means greater workload on existing teachers, less chance in some cases for teacher attention to those kids who need it because there is only so much a teacher can do," said Regal.
'Run a deficit,' suggests minister
Alberta's education minister said his hands are tied because it's up to each board to decide what to do.
"It is up to the school board to do their budget. I can make some very strong hints and suggestions about the direction we need to go as a system overall," said Dave Hancock, who was in Calgary to open a new elementary school in Panorama Hills.
"If they need to run a deficit they can work with us on that. Dip into the operating reserves even through they may have been saved for other purposes in the short term."
Hancock said he's also asked boards to be mindful of teacher ratios because of the growing population in Alberta. But at the same time, he made clear school boards shouldn't count on any more money from the province.
"There is a reality in terms of the budget and we are doing the very best with what we have to ensure students continue to have great learning opportunities," said David Stevenson, the board's deputy chief superintendent.
The Calgary Catholic School District hopes to deal with the loss of 85 positions through attrition.