Canada: 300 teachers to be cut, fees increased as CBE struggles under tough Alberta budget - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada 300 teachers to be cut, fees increased as CBE struggles under tough Alberta budget

02:05  06 november  2019
02:05  06 november  2019 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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Public schools are facing the loss of more than 300 teaching jobs, increased class sizes and significant fee increases in response to the UCP’s tough budget presented almost two weeks ago.

Expressing shock and disbelief, officials with the Calgary Board of Education estimate that provincial cuts to three critical grants, including the classroom improvement fund and the class size initiative fund, will result in a $32-million reduction for this school year.

But when inflation and other reductions kick in, including the potential loss of hundreds of teachers now holding job contracts, CBE chief financial officer Brad Grundy estimates that the $32-million funding loss will translate to about $48 million in cuts by the end of the school year.

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“We will have to lay off more people to achieve the necessary savings,” Grundy said, estimating that the cuts will probably kick in between Christmas and January.

“Given the growing complexity of our classrooms this will be a challenge.”

On Oct. 24, the UCP government announced that funding for K-12 education will remain frozen at $8.2 billion, equal to the former NDP government’s spending last year and continuing at that same level for the next three years.

Officials argued that enrolment growth would be funded through a 2.2 per cent hike in instructional services, going from $6.3 billion to $6.4 billion by 2022-23.

But the CBE says that with the addition of 2,400 new students this school year, the funding freeze merely translates to a funding shortfall which will impact students and teachers on multiple levels.

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Grundy explained that while teaching jobs are expected to be cut, educational assistants and administrative positions could also be lost.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera:  Brad Grundy, chief financial officer for the Calgary Board of Education.© Jim Wells Brad Grundy, chief financial officer for the Calgary Board of Education.

Officials will also look to further efficiencies in administrative services, from technology to classroom and school equipment, as well as increases to school fees.

Under the former NDP government, students attending regular programming and living further away than 2.8 kilometres were reimbursed for almost all bus fees, ranging from $360 for a yellow bus, to as much as $700 for junior high and high school students on Calgary Transit.

Grundy explained that last year, the CBE benefited from a $54-million class size initiative grant, a $13-million classroom improvement grant and an $18-million fee replacement grant.

But after the UCP budget, all of those grants have disappeared, and have been replaced with one transitional grant of $24 million and an additional $29 million for growth.

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So last year’s overall funding of $85 million has been cut to $53 million, resulting in a loss of $32 million which will probably total nearly $48 million by the end of the year.

Board chair Marilyn Dennis said she was surprised that cuts to CBE funding were this deep and significant.

“We can say now with certainty that the Alberta budget will have significant impacts on Calgary students and teachers.

“All of this despite an enrolment increase of 2,400 students — that’s equal to four full elementary schools.”

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