School funding woes after budget

School boards across east central Alberta are spending the week tightening their belts as the 2013 provincial budget results in some cuts and funding freezes for districts across the province. 

Clearview School Division will see a two per cent decrease in the amount of funding received by the province. According to projections, the school board will get $26,837,000 this year and $26,166,000 in funding next year.

“The decline is partly due to the fact we’re projected to get less enrollment,” said Ken Checkel, chair of the Clearview School Division. “We’ve got a bigger Grade 12 class going out, and a smaller Grade 9 class coming in.”

Typically, school boards receive a certain amount of money per student — this year this amount was $6851.55. This amount will not be increasing for next year, which puts the school board into a financial crunch. 

“If they don’t increase our revenues, and we’re negotiating with teachers, we aren’t going to have any extra revenue to pay them,” Checkel said.

Teachers in the Clearview School Division are currently working without a contract, as their most recent collective agreement expired in August of last year. 

Checkel said that any extra money needed for a pay increase would either have to come from other sources, or the board is going to have to look at staffing cuts.

Several grants are expected to be cut, some of them taking effect by the end of the month.

The Fuel Price Contingency Grant will be cut as of April 1, a move aimed at saving the province $22 million.

The grant off-sets the cost of fuel when it rises to a price above 60 cents per litre. The funding typically saves the school board about $20,000 per month. The loss of the grant in the last three months of the school year will result in an extra $60,000 in fuel costs for this year.
Also gone is the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement funding. The grant helped develop innovations in learning, student interaction and use of technology in the classroom and other special projects.

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