With students across the province preparing to go back to the classroom, Premier Alison Redford is drawing attention to the money the provincial government is putting into modernizing Alberta’s schools.
But, critics say the Tories aren’t doing enough to make sure those buildings are fully staffed with teachers.
"Across the province, this year alone, we'll have refurbished four schools to the point where in September approximately 2700 students will be coming back to new schools and new facilities," Redford said while touring Strathcona High School in Edmonton Monday.
The building, which was built in 1955, is undergoing extensive renovations as part of a three-year, $1.4 billion commitment to update schools in the province.
The school will receive a refurbished gymnasium, library and cafeteria, as well as upgraded electrical and plumbing systems.
However, critics say new facilities won't be the only changes students will notice in the fall. They say the government is ignoring the need for teachers and other resources to actually keep the schools going.
With cuts to some programs and no new money for teachers in the last budget, the Edmonton Public School board had to cut $53 million and 182 teaching positions for the coming year, says school board trustee Sarah Hoffman.
"I have to be frank that the budget was really challenging for us and we're going to be seeing some of the impacts of that when we're actually back in school."
Opposition parties are taking aim at the operating budget, saying that while capital dollars for new facilities are needed, it shouldn’t be at the cost of funds to pay teachers.
"This PC government loves to talk about building Alberta," said NDP education critic Deron Bilous. "What about staffing Alberta? What about ensuring that there are teachers and support staff in the classrooms to ensure that our children are getting the best quality of education?
The premier says the school boards are dealing with a challenging budget, but the growing province is in need of new infrastructure.
"Quite frankly, we all have to face those right now," she said.
"But no doubt as we move forward we can't stop growing and we can't stop building."