Calgary

CBE saves full-day kindergarten with one-time funding from board reserves

Calgary Board of Education trustees have voted in favour of using $1.2 million from reserves to fund six full-day kindergarten classes that were slated to be cut next school year.

Six schools that were slated to lose their full-day programs will be funded for next school year

Calgary Board of Education trustees voted in favour of using board reserves to fund six full-day kindergarten classes that were set to be cut for the 2018-19 school year. (Don Ryan/Associated Press)

The Calgary Board of Education has voted in favour of using $1.2 million from reserves to fund six full-day kindergarten classes that were slated to be cut next school year. 

The motion was brought forward by Ward 11 & 13 trustee Julie Hrdlicka. 

"We showed some leadership on what this board values, and we value our students," she said. "We value the most vulnerable students, who often get lost in a crowd and can easily be forgotten about."

Hrdlicka said the decision shows that student learning is a priority for the board, but she added they realize it's a Band-Aid solution — a sentiment echoed by all the trustees during their discussion Tuesday.

"It's something as a school board we struggle with every year. And until we get adequate, sustainable funding, we are going to be challenged, and so that's what puts us in this position to make very difficult decisions," she said. 

Sends a message to province

Hrdlicka said she hopes a second motion passed by the board sends a message to the province about the CBE's priorities.

It asks the government for more than $2 million to fund all 16 full-day kindergarten programs.

"The fact [is] that we as a system do not get funded for it and have committed to doing it," she said.

"Meanwhile, we hope the government is able to get a message from us that we need you, as the leaders in public education, with students as their priority, to take this on and support us by funding full-day kindergarten, particularly for our most vulnerable."

Negatively affect CBE reserves

The Ward 5 & 10 trustee, Marilyn Dennis, said she worries that using the money will negatively affect the status of CBE's reserves, which are already at just one per cent of its total budget.

"I'm a little concerned about the risk we put ourselves in around depleting our reserves any further. But I do think it should certainly send a message to the province that full-day kindergarten matters to our students," she said. "And I think it's OK to ask them to demonstrate their commitment to that as well."

The provincial government had it in their election platform, and we're going to remind them- Richard Hehr

Ward 8 & 9 trustee Richard Hehr said he thinks it's a fair ask of the government. 

"I think this board has just stood up for kids. We have taken a vote and said these vulnerable children are in need of our assistance, in need of education, in need of full-day kindergarten," he said. "The provincial government had it in their election platform, and we're going to remind them."

In a statement, Education Minister David Eggen said his government has fully funded enrolment growth, injecting nearly $100 million more into the CBE budget than would have been the case under the previous government.

He said this increased funding has meant more teachers, smaller classes and additional learning supports. 

"Given this fact, I expect the CBE to balance its budget without impacting front-line staffing levels or classroom conditions," he said. "I'm confident that through this budget process they will do what's right for kids and parents in Calgary."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson