Provincial funding that supports some of the most vulnerable Central Alberta students has been chopped by $1 million.
Now in light of tough decisions ahead, Central zone school officials are speaking out. Last week Kurt Sacher, superintendent of Chinook’s Edge School Division, was the first to raise the concern.
Bev Manning, Red Deer Public Schools board chair, said Friday the cut has one of those blanket effects.
“It pulls back our funding in general but we still have to fill in gaps and make cuts where we can,” said Manning. “We’re increasingly concerned about the programs we’re able to offer our most vulnerable students.”
Both districts are part of the Central Alberta Regional Collaborative Service Delivery (RCSD), one of nine regional partnerships throughout the province between Alberta Education, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Human Services. They provide universal supports for students with complex and severe needs. The partnerships were created to allow students enhanced access to speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and mental health programs.
The cut in funding will have an impact on the programs and services offered by the collaborative initiative.
Red Deer Public Schools Superintendent Stu Henry said the demand for the types of services offered through the RCSD has increased over the past few years, but the reduced funding may mean cutting some of its programs altogether now.
“The challenge we face is that as a jurisdiction we don’t have the dollars to fill in gaps. We’re going to have to try to find ways to mitigate or cut them period, and we don’t really like that idea,” he said.
The Central Alberta RCSD has been advocating strongly for the province to not cut funding since rumours of cuts began a few months ago but now that it has been confirmed all nine area school jurisdictions are calling for meetings.
“We would really like to sit down with the people who made this decision and let them know what consequences there will be as a result of the decision and to push for restored funding,” says Henry.