Busing fees to increase as Calgary Catholic schools address $11M shortfall

Citing the impacts of the provincial budget, the Calgary Catholic School District announced Friday it will raise transportation fees starting Jan. 6, 2020 at a rate of $147 per student – but will not immediately reduce staffing levels.

Transportation fees will increase by $147 per student in 2020

The Calgary Catholic School District operates 116 schools across Calgary, including St. Isabella in the city's southeast. (Google Maps)

Citing the impacts of the provincial budget, the Calgary Catholic School District announced Friday it will raise transportation fees starting Jan. 6, 2020 at a rate of $147 per student — but will not immediately reduce staffing levels.

The CCSD said it is facing a $11-million reduction in funding as a result of the budget, and will also incur $6 million in costs associated with growth.

In a letter released Friday, the CCSD attributed the shortfall to the elimination of several government funds mid-year, which it called "especially challenging."

"Given these fiscal realities, we can't possibly maintain all current levels of service but will do our best to minimize the impact," the letter reads.

Representatives from the CCSD did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The Calgary Board of Education made similar moves in mid-November, when the board announced it was facing a funding cut of $32 million.

Busing fees will increase at CBE schools, though it is unknown at this time by how much. Class sizes will increase, and some temporary teachers will be cut.

After the CBE announced it would cut 300 temporary teachers, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange ordered a provincial review and accused the public school board of "reckless" misspending.

LaGrange later informed the province's school boards that they could apply for one-time access to funding earmarked for maintenance to support classroom and school-based staffing costs. 

According to information from the education ministry provided to CBC News, 45 per cent of a board's infrastructure maintenance and renewal grant is available to be repurposed.

Forty-four per cent of the CCSD's IMR is about $7 million. No representatives from the CCSD were available to comment Friday regarding whether or not the board had applied to access those funds.

"Our board of trustees will continue to advocate through the provincial government to ensure they are aware of our operating realities and our need for sufficient funding to be able to provide high quality Catholic education for our students," reads the CCSD letter.

With files from Lucie Edwardson


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