Calgary

Parents start campaign for more school funding

Parents living in Calgary's inner city are spearheading a letter writing campaign, a last ditch attempt to get more provincial money for their children's schools.

Parents living in Calgary's inner city are spearheading a letter writing campaign, a last ditch attempt to get more provincial money for their children's schools.

The Calgary Public School Board is cutting 172 teaching and support positions to eliminate a $61.7 million budget shortfall.

Many of the parents participating in the campaign say they live in the inner city, where they pay higher property taxes, but are stuck with deteriorating buildings and soon fewer teachers.

"I feel that we can't just sit and not doing anything. And it's easier to deal with what's going on by realizing you're at least doing what you can. You're able to sleep at night knowing that you're doing something," said Elaine Dube, who is helping to organize the letter writing campaign.

Jenny Williams drafted the letter to parents, using a letter parents sent to the province eight years ago when budget cuts were also threatening teacher layoffs.

"I think if parents feel that money has been spent on things that they regard as less important than education, then they need to tell the government that," she said.

School boards across the province are short on funds. The Alberta Teachers' Association has estimated there will be 1,000 fewer teaching positions in Alberta during the next school year.

"Parents really want to have their stories told," said Eryn Kelly, co-president of the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils. "I think what we're seeing from parents is they want people to listen and understand that this is what we're getting. These are the cuts that we're going to see in our schools."

Earlier this week, Premier Ed Stelmach blamed the teachers' union for the budget problems. Stelmach says the government tried unsuccessfully this year to work out a deal with the Alberta Teachers' Association to reduce or even freeze teachers' salaries until the economy recovered.