EPSB limiting spending after release of Budget 2019
Staff, CTV News Edmonton
Published Friday, November 8, 2019 10:02PM MST
EDMONTON -- Edmonton Public Schools is warning a $34.4-million budget shortfall will mean several short-term changes, like a hiring freeze and fewer training options for staff.
The city's largest school division informed parents of students on Friday, sending out a letter in the morning that said it will be receiving what is equal to one-third of the funding it was previously supposed to see.
"For this school year, we are committed to maintaining current staffing levels and minimizing disruption and impact on the classroom," the letter read.
"But we must be frugal in our spending and be the best stewards of taxpayer dollars. So, we are taking the following immediate actions."
A hiring freeze has been put in place for district office staff, and costs like non-essential out-of-town travel and professional development are being eliminated, the district said.
The measures come after the release of Budget 2019, in which the government capped K-12 education funding at $8.2 billion per year.
Because the budget came down after school boards had made their annual plans, many say they are facing multi-million dollar shortfalls.
According to Edmonton Public Schools, the shortfall is $34.4 million.
EPSB said it would cover most of the difference with its surplus, but that it would need to spend less on its equity fund, external consultants, hiring and out-of-town professional development to save $5 million.
"We're still crunching the numbers but we are very concerned about how next year's budget will affect students and families and classrooms within Edmonton Public Schools," chair Trisha Estabrooks told CTV News Edmonton.
"Certainly our goal right now is to maintain staffing levels."
Estabrooks said the district is also considering a mid-year hike of transportation fees.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Teachers' Association said it is bracing for job cuts.
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, the Education Ministry said while funding has been capped, the department has "also accounted for enrollment growth, with every student walking through our doors receiving the same amount for base instruction funding as they did last year."
Colin Aitchison, the education minister's press secretary, added, "As school divisions make adjustments, we expect them to prioritize students and direct as much funding as possible into the classroom."
With a report from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg