April 23rd, 2021

Schools promise quality in face of cuts

By COLLIN GALLANT on November 1, 2019.

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Grade 3 students Micah Mandryk and Brynnae Paul play a game on their first day of the 2019-2020 school year at Ross Glen School. In a letter sent home this week 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.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

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.

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full_instructor
full_instructor
1 year ago

The problem is NOT lack of funds in the school system. The problem is the allocation of the funds. Teachers wages are NOT the problem. They are in the trenches working with the youth trying to help them to learn how to think and give them the skills they need to pursue a career. Does any taxpayer really know the amount they are paying for the superintendent and support staff? How come the board of trustees are NOT looking at the expense accounts of the upper management eg. superintendent, assistant superintendents and ALL support staff as cost cutbacks? I am tired of the poorly supported excuses why the staffing in ALL district offices throughout the province of Alberta are operating the management of our schools like it is their own personal kingdom. The job of the board of trustees is NOT to rubber stamp every request via the upper management, but it is to hold them accountable for their spending. It is NOT that there is not enough money, is how the money in the school districts is allocated. The bulging administration, office positions created out of thin air, expansion of office and monies being allocated for superintendents’ wages and expenses that would not be endorsed in the private sector. The monies allocated need to go to the Schools and the Students. Every Medicine Hat resident and Alberta taxpayer have the right to know where their monies are being spent. The next municipal general election will be held on Oct 18, 2021, I suggest that every taxpayer become informed, demand the board of trustees reveal ALL expenses in an open forum. We need to have the organization chart/ financial statements open to the public. We need to ask ourselves what is realistic for a population of approximately 63000 people in Medicine Hat? Are the school upper management spending excessively?