Alberta school boards are looking to the province for help with rising school bus fuel costs, and funding to fill in learning gaps caused by the pandemic for more students.
Trustees at the Alberta School Boards Association spring general meeting in Red Deer passed resolutions advocating the education minister reinstate the fuel-price contingency fund when diesel fuel rises above $1.20 per litre, and extend literacy and numeracy funding to students in Grades 4 to 9 to address two years of learning stress from school closures and online learning.
ASBA president Marilyn Dennis said school division budgets were not set up to manage rising fuel costs, and parents should not have to face higher transportation fees.
“(School boards) will make the best decisions they can with the resources they have, but we are hearing from members that they do need additional support,” Dennis said at a press conference at Red Deer’s Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre where the conference was held June 5 to 7.
“One of the ways school boards can help mitigate the rising costs of fuel sometimes is through increased fees to parents and so we would like to mitigate against that. Transporation needs to be affordable and accessible for families.”
She said the fuel-price contingency fund was in place from 2007 and 2013 to deal with high fuel costs.
The ASBA also wants Alberta Education to provide additional targeted funding to address pandemic learning gaps.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant disruption to student learning. Over the past two years, schools have shifted to online learning, at home, and in-school delivery of education, and in many instances an overlap of all three,” Dennis said.
In May 2021, the province allocated $45 million to address interrupted learning for Grade 1 to 3 students.
Dennis said school divisions have seen some good results from that funding.
“We would like the opportunity to be able to mirror some of those successes with our Grades 4 to 6 and our 7 to 9 students as well.”