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'We are $136M short': Teachers' association claims education funding cuts
EDMONTON -- The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) says Alberta school boards are facing a major funding cut for the 2019/20 school year.
The ATA received documents through a Freedom of Information request that they say show the government's "funding freeze" is misleading.
"From what we were hearing from the politicians to what we were seeing on the page and hearing from school boards and teachers didn't match, and so we wanted to see what was missing," ATA president Jason Schilling told CTV News Edmonton. "It clearly shows that we are $136 million short in funding this year."
Schilling says the discrepancy is because Budget 2019 used a different fiscal year-end than Alberta's school boards.
He said the elimination of grants for transportation fees and class size reduction removed more valuable funding and the budget did not include increases in enrollment for the new school year. The number of new students is between 13,000 and 15,000 each year.
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, the province argues that funding has been maintained for the current fiscal year, which runs from April to March. But that basic operational funding does not take into account several grant programs that were cut in the October budget.
This fiscal year also includes the last two months of the 2018/19 school year, which had lower enrolment than the current year.
"Budget 2019 was extremely clear, we have honoured our commitments to Albertans and maintained education funding at $8.223 billion, equal to last year’s budget, and the base instruction rate for each student remains the same," said Colin Aitchison, press secretary to the education minister.
Aitchison added that it is normal for program-specific funding to vary year to year. The province is working a new funding model that will provide more predictability and better manage system growth that is expected to be in place for the 2020-21 school year.