Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci (centre) will announce Alberta’s budget on March 16. Here he helped a student with the ribbon cutting in January at the new Beacon Hill Elementary School in Sylvan Lake as Chinook’s Edge officials and MLAs looked on. (Advocate file photo)

Central Alberta school districts look to provincial budget for more details on fees

Province plans to eliminate basic school fees for parents

Local school boards are hoping for more information in the March 16 provincial budget to better understand the impact of a proposed bill to reduce school fees for parents.

“From our perspective, their intentions are good … It does make sense for families not to have to pay for those instructional material fees. However we have come to rely on them over time and so we’ve consistently advocated that government fill the gap,” Chinook’s Edge school Superintendent Kurt Sacher said Wednesday.

The NDP government announced the bill last week that will eliminate fees to parents for instructional supplies or materials such as textbooks, workbooks, printing and paper costs. As well, transportation fees for eligible students travelling to their designated school, if it is more than 2.4 kilometres from home, will not be charged.

It will amount to about 25 per cent of the fees that school boards receive. The province has indicated the cost will be about $50 million and will come from savings within government.

“We’ve not been given the specific details of how that money will be dispersed,” Sacher said. The fees involved would be about an $800,000 loss to Chinook Edge’s budget.

Will there be enough money from the province to compensate the district, and if there isn’t, there are implications for students, programs, and staff, he said.

Chinook’s Edge school board has been vigilant about not charging a transporation fee to parents when students live over 2.4 km from school. But other school districts that have been charging could end up getting compensation from the province, and that doesn’t strike Chinook’s Edge as something that’s fair, Sacher said.

Parents in the school district currently pay no fees for kindergarten. The annual basic fees for Grades 1-6 are $64, Grades 7-9 are $79, and Grades 10-12, $104.

Bev Manning, Red Deer Public Schools board chair, said the province’s plan to eliminate the fees is welcome news but there is concern about where the province will find the money to compensate school districts.

“We really support the position of the government to keep the cost of education to parents as low as possible.” Red Deer Public Schools would need about $1.4 million to eliminate the fees.

The public district has already eliminated all fees at the elementary level but there are transportation fees to help with the transporation budget deficit.

Last year the district introduced one basic fee for high school students of $180 per year, although there are additional fees for things like field trips. Middle school fees still vary with different courses.

Guy Pelletier, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board chair, said it’s good if the province replaces the fees the district can no longer collect.

“So no net gain or no net loss for the division, but certainly a savings for parents, which is good news.” The basic fees amount involved is about $600,000 for the Catholic district, he said.

Basic fees vary, depending on grade. They are $30 for kindergarten $65 for elementary, $100 for middle school, and $150 for high school.

Some of the unknown details include exactly how the province would compensate school boards.

Pelletier said one way might be to cut a cheque for what a school division now charges, but this would create an advantage for those that currently charge more.

Another way might be to average the fees charged by all of Alberta’s 62 boards, so everybody gets more equal treatment.

“That level of detail we don’t know,” he said.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Man killed in collision near Markerville

A 55-year-old man is dead after a collision near Markerville Friday night.… Continue reading

La Loche school shooter carried out plan with ‘stark efficiency:’ Crown

MEADOW LAKE, Sask. — A Saskatchewan judge is weighing whether a teenager… Continue reading

Castor triple-murder trial resumes on Monday

Trial was delayed two weeks for two men accused of killing Castor-area family

Red Deer Royals are sending 1,000 letters to Trudeau

The band must pay for the last 20 per cent of fieldhouse costs

Central Alberta real estate market reflects Alberta’s slow recovery

Real estate markets will bounce back but incoming mortgage changes don’t help, say realtor groups

WATCH: A magical Harry Potter weekend in downtown Red Deer

Wizards, witches and muggles are flocking to downtown Red Deer to celebrate… Continue reading

B.C. ice rink where 3 people died remains closed due to safety concerns

FERNIE, B.C. — Residents who were forced from their homes because of… Continue reading

Trudeau condemns appointment of Mugabe as WHO ambassador

EDMONTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the appointment of Zimbabwe President… Continue reading

Friday Oct. 21: Winning Lotto Numbers

Friday, October 20, 2017 LOTTO MAX Winning Numbers 1 4 12 27… Continue reading

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Sockey Night at Saturday’s Rebels game

United Way Central Alberta is determined to provide warm feet for all… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month