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Funding cuts, teacher layoffs coming to Alberta schools, association says

The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) says 13 school boards are set to get less provincial money for the upcoming school year, and could have less teachers.

The association says it went through data posted to the province’s website on May 6 which outlines the funding each school board is set to receive for the next school year.

It claims more than a dozen boards will face funding shortfalls, including those in Okotoks, High River, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Peace River, Athabasca, Camrose, and Morinville.

School jurisdiction profiles show cuts range from 0.1 to 2.3 per cent, for a total of more than $5.6 million.

ATA president Jason Schilling says cutting public education funding is unacceptable.

“There is no excuse in our growing, wealthy province to have funding cuts for public education,” he said. “Year after year after year, school board funding has failed to keep up with inflation and enrolment growth and as a result, we now have the lowest per-pupil spending on education in all of Canada.”

The organization’s president claims he has heard from teachers that many school boards, in addition to those facing funding cuts, will be laying off teachers at the end of the school year.

Schilling says these plans are contrary to announcements made by the government for Budget 2024, which spotlighted the hiring of 3,000 additional school staff over the next three years.

The education minister says funding to education in the province is at record levels.

“Some school divisions saw very small reductions due primarily to declining enrolment in those communities and lower COVID related funding,” reads a statement from Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.

The ATA is calling for a halt to any plans involving layoffs and says the province should announce new funding in for the fall.

“The Weighted Moving Average has proven disastrous for education funding,” Schilling said. “We’ve had years of rapid enrolment growth and insufficient funding. When adjusted for inflation, per-pupil education spending will be down 13 per cent province-wide, compared to 2019.

“We are now 3,000 teaching positions behind where service levels were at just five years ago. As a result of underfunding, class sizes have grown, programs have been cut and supports for students continue to erode.”

Alberta’s K-12 education funding model was updated in September 2020 for the first time in 15 years.

CityNews has reached out to the province for comment.

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