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More students, fewer teachers: Edmonton Public Schools passes 'a tough budget'

Trustees and officials with Edmonton Public Schools meet in the Alberta capital on May 26, 2023. (CTV News Edmonton) Trustees and officials with Edmonton Public Schools meet in the Alberta capital on May 26, 2023. (CTV News Edmonton)

Public school trustees in Edmonton are blaming the provincial government for a plan passed Friday that will result in fewer teachers and more students next year.

Edmonton Public Schools is expecting enrollment to grow by about 5,500 kids, while the number of full-time teachers falls by about 13.

"Simply we don't have the money to hire the additional staff, be that teachers or educational assistants, that we need to support our students," board chair Trisha Estabrooks told reporters.

The 2023-24 budget will be $1.28 billion, up about $80 million from this school year.

Much of that additional money is being spent on high utility costs, increased maintenance and insurance bills, salary increases and the rising costs of benefits, school administrators wrote in budget documents.

The division projects enrollment to hit 114,265 students, an increase of about 5 per cent.

About 5,390 "full-time equivalent" teaching positions are budgeted, a decrease from 5,403.

Overall, staffing will increase by 27 positions because of more educational assistants and support staff.

"We want to create possibilities for the kids and families we serve," Estabrooks said.

"Unfortunately, the possibilities that we need, we're not seeing that from the provincial government in our current budget. And so once again, it's a tough budget."

She believes Alberta has a "fundamentally-flawed funding model" and said the division was hoping for 12 new schools this year, but is only getting one.

"We're running out of space. We don't have the funding that supports enrollment growth," Estabrooks said.

The UCP platform states education spending has increased from $8.2 billion in 2019 to $8.8 billion this year.

It also says 106 new schools and modernizations have been announced by its government since 2019.

The NDP says that since 2019, 36,000 more students are attending schools in the province but the UCP has not hired "a single additional teacher."

The NDP is promising to hire 4,000 more teachers and 3,000 education support staff across Alberta and build more schools to ease overcrowding.

Alberta's election is May 29. Top Stories

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