Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman met with Clearview Trustees during the Feb. 8 regular board meeting.
Discussing how the United Conservative Party can best support education in Alberta, the board advocated stable, sustainable funding, focussing on the importance of protecting rural education funding to ensure equity of opportunity for all students in our communities.
Vital funding includes “Small School by Necessity” for both education and maintenance, transportation, and “Equity of Opportunity” funding.
According to the board report, the basic per student grant, which provides about half of the division’s funding, has had only one increase in the last five years, while the Small School by Necessity grant has had one increase in the last eight years.
Likewise, transportation and maintenance funding have seen only one increase in the past eight years.
In fact, changes to the funding framework have resulted in a decline in both transportation and maintenance funding.
In transportation, removal of the fuel price contingency grants reduced funding by $300,000 or approximately 10 per cent of transportation grants.
In maintenance, removal of the special education factor resulted in a funding reduction of $250,000 or approximately 10 per cent of maintenance grants.
The board went on to point out how funding cutbacks can lead to service level reductions, increased fees to parents, and decreased employment in rural communities.
According to Board Chair Ken Checkel, up till now, Clearview has been very successful rolling with the punches.
By drawing down on reserves in a planned manner the division has been able to meet operational needs, but with total operating reserves projected to decrease by 62 per cent from $4,928,941 at August 2010 to $1,864,191 at August 2018, the ability to continue operations under the current model may be strained due to lack of resources.