School districts issue joint statement expressing budget concerns

School districts across the province on Monday have voiced their concerns.

School districts across the province on Monday voiced their concerns with the negative impact they feel the 2015-2016 provincial budget will have on Alberta students.

In a statement endorsed by 19 Alberta school districts — including Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and Chinook’s Edge School Division in the Sylvan Lake area — the districts say 12,000 new students are expected to enroll in Alberta schools next year, and about 36,000 in the next three years.

The budget tabled by the provincial government, the districts feel, doesn’t adequately support that anticipated growth.

“By not funding growth, we are effectively reducing the per pupil funding for every student while increasing class sizes,” the districts said in their joint statement. “Growing districts are forced to attempt to provide the same level of service for more students with less funding.”

The districts say the budget will force them to reduce support services while increasing teachers’ workloads. Schools’ most vulnerable students, they say, will suffer from increased class sizes.

They’d like to see the government work alongside them toward a solution that would encourage and foster student growth and success.

“As growing districts, we ask the government to reconsider and to work with our school districts on a collaborative approach to restraint that will sustain student success, support student growth and provide enough autonomy and flexibility for local board officials to address the most pressing areas of concern for their districts.

“We understand and support the goal of achieving a balanced budget and building long-term success for Alberta. However, the effect on education cannot be underestimated; we believe education is key to the overall success and future of our province.”