Calgary

Brace yourselves for higher bus fees, fewer teachers at Calgary public schools

Parents of students at Calgary public schools will see an increase in busing fees mid-year, while some temporary teachers will be cut as the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) attempts to make up significant funding shortfalls.

Temporary teachers, such as those filling in on maternity leaves, will also be cut

Busing fees for Calgary public schools will increase mid-year this year due to decreased funding from the provincial government, the Calgary Board of Education says. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Parents of students at Calgary public schools will see an increase in busing fees mid-year, while some temporary teachers will be cut as the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) responds to decreased funding from the provincial government.

Brad Grundy, chief financial officer at the CBE, said such initiatives were part of a larger strategy to make up significant funding shortfalls.

"We began this school year on the assumption that funding would be maintained at an equivalent level to the prior school year," he said. "We learned through the budget that our funding was actually going to be cut by [$32-million] and now we're in the process of implementing those cuts across our system."

Class sizes are likely to go up as staffing is reduced, Grundy said, though he could not put figures on that number at this time.

Busing fees will also increase for parents, though it is unknown by how much at this time. Grundy said the CBE will give parents an update on those figures by mid-December. 

"If you are in a [financial] circumstance, you can [apply] or go talk to your school principal … the principal can waive some or all of the fee as necessary, depending on the economic circumstances of the individual," he said.

The CBE will also cut some temporary teachers, such as those filling in on maternity leaves.

We're in the process of implementing [cuts] across our system.- Brad Grundy, chief financial officer, Calgary Board of Education

Grundy said school-based staff, such as those working in offices, would help to fill in gaps at various schools.

"Those certificated educators will be moved back into the system to take on roles commensurate with their levels," he said. 

Overall administration will be cut between two and 10 per cent, and each of the 246 CBE schools will have their funding reduced by 2.5 per cent.

Capital spending will also be dialled back by $5-million, and that will have an impact on items that go into classrooms.

"So that can be technology – smartboards, digital displays, laptops, desktops, tablets, all those kinds of things," Grundy said. "As schools see increased enrollment, they may need to move a wall.

"Those capital projects will be slowed down, obviously."

The CBE said it expects that direct impacts on staff will not occur until January of next year, and emphasized impacts will likely look different across various schools.

"The CBE will be making its decisions, to the extent absolutely possible, in the best interests of students and their learning," Grundy said.

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