Alberta school boards welcome provincial dollars
School boards across Alberta got a reprieve Wednesday, thanks to the province's announcement that it will cover a jump in teachers' salaries this fall.
Education Minister Dave Hancock said boards will receive an extra $66 million on Sept. 1. The boards had been scrambling since an independent arbitrator awarded a 5.99 per cent pay raise to teachers.
Edmonton Public Schools determined it would have to lay off 119 teachers - even after it used $22.3 million of a $34-million reserve fund to cover the salary increase.
The Calgary Board of Education had said it would face a $10 million deficit even after cutting 192 teaching positions and 85 support positions.
The Calgary Catholic School District put 85 positions on the chopping block. Edmonton Catholic Schools has not yet released its 2010-11 budget.
Timing wasn't perfect: teachers' association
Carol Henderson, the president of the Alberta Teachers' Association, said she thinks Hancock did his best in a bad situation.
"I think this minister really believes in investing in education. I'll give him full marks for going after that extra money for the classrooms," Henderson told CBC News.
"I mean, the timing wasn't perfect, but like I said, we'll take money for education any time we can and it will benefit the students." Henderson said she hopes teachers who were let go haven't left the province or found other work, so they can be rehired.
Debbie Engel, chairwoman of Edmonton Catholic Schools said she's glad the money is coming sooner than later.
"The minister had indicated to us that the money would be coming. He wouldn't say when, but we're delighted that it came before the end of the school year," Engel said.
"It makes it easier to start on making changes to the budget and getting ready to present it in the fall."
Period of uncertainty: public board
Edmonton public school trustee Catherine Ripley said the funding means they can replace some of the staff who were let go.
Ripley, however, said the board isn't sure if all the cuts will be reversed.
"This is a period of uncertainty, but we want to make sure we make the proper budgeting decisions," she said.
"So, that's why, we just need to take a little bit of time and look at the budget and what this 2.92 per cent [pay raise] actually means."
Ripley said most of the cuts were young teachers who had reached the end of their probationary contracts.