CBE student enrolment surges to record growth this year

The Calgary Board of Education's student enrolment experienced record growth this year.

Funding from Alberta Education remained the same

A frosted glass sign sits outside a building. The sign reads: Calgary Board of Education.
The Calgary Board of Education welcomed 5,886 new students this year, an increase of nearly five per cent. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The Calgary Board of Education's enrolment grew by nearly 6,000 students this school year. 

Dany Breton, superintendent of facilities and environment, told trustees at Tuesday's board meeting that the CBE welcomed 5,886 new students, bringing enrolment to 131,215 students. 

"This is exceptional in the 40 years of records that we have," he said.

Chief superintendent Christopher Usih said that with that influx of students, the CBE continues to align resources and maximize them to the best of its ability.

"But I think it's important to recognize the challenge that we grapple with across a system this size," he said. 

The CBE is the largest school board in the province.

"While we are excited and pleased that our numbers are growing, within those numbers are the complexities as well that we see in our system," Usih said.

CBE chief superintendent Christopher Usih says that as the student population grows, so do the complexities of the system. (CBE)

Meanwhile, administration says funding from the province remained virtually unchanged. 

"Overall, Alberta Education funding for last school year was $1.15 billion and the CBE's Alberta Education funding for the current school year is $1.15 billion. So no change," said chief financial officer Brad Grundy. 

And when it comes to how the CBE is funded to support its most vulnerable or high-needs students through specialized programs, there is a huge gap.

Grundy said that under the Alberta government's weighted moving average funding framework, the funding is provided to the CBE to deploy in the best interests of the students within the system.

There are then some separate grants within that bundle of dollars, including the specialized learning supports grant, which is approximately $94 million, and a specialized learning supports "kindergarten severe" of about $4.5 million.

"So together for the last school year, $99.2 million," he said. "Against that, the CBE spent $146.9 million, leaving a differential of $47.7 million for those two for those bundle of programs."

Wards 8 and 9 trustee Susan Vukadinovic said she was "shocked" by this. 

"Wow. Quite frankly, there are school authorities in Calgary that do not serve students who have the most profound disabilities," she said.

"And there are taxpayer-subsidized school authorities that routinely turn away the students that we welcome with open arms — the students who present with gifts, challenges and complexities that require acute supports."

Wards 8 and 9 trustee Susan Vukadinovic says she was 'shocked' by the funding gap. (Submitted by Susan Vukadinovic)

Vukadinovic asked administration if the CBE made an effort to communicate to staff at the department of education that there is such a difference between what it is funded for and what it costs to meet the needs of every student, every day.

"I think it's safe to say that the staff at Alberta Education are very aware of how the CBE deploys its dollars," said Grundy. 

"Obviously, decisions around the amount of funding and all that are a political decision. But I would say that the staff at Alberta Education do know how we deploy our dollars and what gaps there may or may not be depending on the program."


Lucie Edwardson


Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson or reach her by email at


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