July 20th, 2024

Alberta Teachers Association outlines underfunding of public education

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on June 20, 2024.

news@medicinehatnews.com

Medicine Hat News

The Alberta Teachers Association says more than one-third of Alberta school divisions will be cutting teaching positions next year despite a significant increase in student enrolment.

The Medicine Hat Public School Division board was included in the report that includes 17 provincial divisions expected to cut a total of 250 full-time teacher positions in the fall.

Jason Schilling, ATA president, says the problem lies with significant and systemic underfunding of public education.

“We cannot be cutting staff in growing school divisions when schools provincewide are expecting to receive 26,000 additional students next year,” says Schilling in a release. “The government made an election promise to hire 3,000 new education workers over the next three years; cutting teaching positions now fails our students and their learning.”

Specifically the ATA disagrees with the province’s student funding model that provides schools funding based on the weighted moving average known as a WMA. This means new students are not fully funded until their third year of enrolment.

“Not only does Alberta spend the least on public education in all of Canada, but we also have the highest ratio of students to teachers in the country,” says Schilling. “This is why we have large classes and students struggling without the support and guidance they need for success. As it sits, next year will only get worse.”

The list reports the Medicine Hat Public School Division will cut six and a half full-time teacher positions. Moreover, the division is expecting to reduce its overall number of teachers, educational assistants and support staff by 21 due to attrition and retirement, and will not re-fill those roles, essentially meaning they will not have to lay off any current staff.

The division’s staff reduction is also part of a two-year plan to balance the budget, and it expects to accomplish that next year after approving this year’s budget with an $800K deficit.

Next year the public school division is expecting an increase of 30 more student enrolments and plans to hire one additional full-time support staff.

Of the 17 listed school divisions on the report, Red Deer Catholic tops the list, projecting 90 full-time teacher positions to be cut next fall.

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