Parents learn how funding cuts will affect their kids

Any public budget release comes loaded with numbers that are difficult to conceptualize. It's hard to visualize what a $32-million funding cut means, or what schools might look like with 300 less temporary teachers.

Calgary Board of Education cutting 300 temporary teachers after provincial funding cut

Jennifer Graham has a child at Langevin School in Calgary, where she says three temporary teachers are being cut. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Any public budget release comes loaded with numbers that are difficult to conceptualize. 

It's hard to visualize what a $32 million funding cut means, or what schools might look like with 300 fewer temporary teachers.

But the impacts of those cuts began to sink in this week, when Calgary parents arrived at schools and learned how the cuts would affect their kids.

"I just found out that my son's Grade 1 teacher… is not coming back in January," said Katie Gibson, whose six-year-old son attends Langevin School. "It's just hard, because he's finally thriving and now he has to go through a teacher change."

Gibson said she didn't blame the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) for the cuts.

"I think the CBE is working with what they were given, and they were given a drastic cut," she said.

Katie Gibson said she thought education funding should be protected as part of any provincial budget. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Jennifer Graham, who also has a child at Langevin School, also lays blame for the cuts at the feet of the provincial government.

"They're hurting families with these cuts to education and they need to take a long look at who they are supporting and who they aren't in this province," she said.

It's just hard, because [my son] is finally thriving now and now he has to go through a teacher change.- Katie Gibson, parent

Nicole Bracko has three children who all attend Wildwood Elementary, and though the circumstances are still unclear, parents have been told students will be impacted.

"We're worried. It's obviously not a good thing for the kids," Bracko said.

Nicole Bracko has three kids who attend Wildwood School, located in the city's southwest. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Though Bracko doesn't know how the cuts will impact her kids yet, she said she is feeling anxious.

"If they're in overcrowded classrooms and the teachers are stretched too thin and the students who need extra help aren't getting it, it's going to affect everybody," she said. "The teachers are already so stressed and overwhelmed, so it's just going to get even worse."

She said the looming uncertainty has led her family to consider moving to British Columbia. 

"We've started to wonder if it's best for the kids to stay in this province," she said.

On Wednesday, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said she was ordering a independent financial audit and governance review of the CBE, accusing the public school board of "reckless" misspending.

In a statement issued in response, CBE officials said they were confident in their "sound financial and governance practices."

The CBE said its 300 temporary teacher contracts will end as of Jan. 2, and teachers will be placed on the substitute roster.

With files from Jennifer Lee