By COLLIN GALLANT on November 1, 2019.
Medicine Hat’s public school division is telling parents it will “defend high-quality service” for students in spite of lower spending by the provincial government.
“We want families to remain confident that the board’s focus on classrooms is unwavering,” reads a letter signed by board chair Rick Massini and sent home on Wednesday. “(We) have and will continue to work with other school divisions and government to advocate for budgets that defend high-quality service for our students.”
It further promises no layoffs and class sizes or services will not be negatively affected in the current school year.
While the entire provincial government’s education budget remains stable at $8.2 billion following this month’s announcements of cuts or spending freezes in most areas, the local board’s funding will fall by 5 per cent this year before a one-time transition grant is applied.
The letter states the net change this year is $3.7 million less in the 2019-2020 academic – money that will now likely be made up in reserve funding at the division.
Due to the provincial budget coming so late in the financial and calendar year however, another budget is due this coming spring.
“When the budget is announced in March 2020, our board will work with staff, families and our community to see solutions that will protect our priorities in uncertain times,” the letter reads.
The current funding is $4.2 million less than the previous year, offset partly by a $1.4-million transition grant.
The largest items making up the decrease are the loss of two major grants. They are for class-size funding, worth $3.1 million to the division, that the government has argued was misapplied and unsuccessful in many cases. The other is $600,000 in funds for Medicine Hat School District that replaced lost income after the previous government suspended school fees paid by parents.
According to the 2018-19 school division budget, 95 per cent of the division’s revenue of $91.1 million came from grants from the province. About $4.1 million was raised from fees, school revenue and local fundraising.