Red Deer Public Schools is asking voters to make students a priority at the ballot box.
Board chair Bev Manning said school jurisdictions have not seen an increase in per pupil funding for at least seven years.
School boards need increased, long-term funding to ensure students get the best possible education with adequate supports.
Make students a priority on April 16! Your voice matters!
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— rdpschools (@rdpschools) April 11, 2019
“If we get a zero increase, we have to find half a million in our budget to cover that, because that’s what our expenses go up every year,” Manning said.
So no increase is actually a decrease, she said.
“What we would love to see would be an increase in the per pupil grant, and that it remain a per-pupil grant. We’ve had some talk throughout the province from some political parties that suggest they may not fund enrolment increases.”
The school district has about 11,000 students, runs a $125-million operation annually, and grows by about 100 to 150 students each year.
“We grow by about a school every two years,” Manning said.
The Alberta School Boards Association is also calling for predictable and sustainable funding to manage class size.
Rural schools often see pressures due to decreased student enrolment, while urban schools face enrolment increases.
“ASBA believes each and every student, regardless of their postal code, deserves a world-class education,” said ASBA president Lorrie Jess.
“Hard class-size caps do not take into account the diverse needs of today’s complex student systems. But as locally elected representatives, school boards are in the best position to decide where funding should be used.”
Manning said budgeting has been an ongoing battle. The district’s surplus has been eaten away and might shrink further depending on the election results. The surplus stands at about $5 million.
“We need to support our public education system and we need to support it completely. It’s so important for kids to be successful and for all students to be able to have that opportunity, not just the rich ones or the ones that have an advantage or a supportive home, but all students deserve that opportunity. That’s what we’re about.”
She said whoever is elected needs to know public school jurisdictions and their locally elected school boards have expertise they can use to their advantage.
“I just want to work with them and show them how valuable locally elected boards are. We can be exceedingly efficient in helping the government deliver quality education in an affordable manner,” Manning said.