Campaign fights cuts to education

A campaign by Alberta parents, teachers and school boards is pushing the provincial government to stop making cuts to education.

A campaign by Alberta parents, teachers and school boards is pushing the provincial government to stop making cuts to education.

Kelly Aleman, president for the ATA Red Deer Public Local No. 60, said that there have already been cuts this year and from all indications it will be worse next year. “We’re hearing it could be in the neighbourhood of $300 million (in cuts across the province).”

Aleman said it would mean there would be fewer teachers, larger class sizes and likely cuts to specialty programs.

He is encouraging Central Albertans to contact their MLAs and the premier to say they don’t want this to happen.

The cuts made this year have meant a reduction in close to $1 million in funding from the province to the Red Deer Public School District’s $97-million budget and about an 11 per cent reduction to the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division’s $64-million budget.

“Education is more than just teaching Mary to read and Johnny to count,” said Bill Stuebing, chair of the Red Deer Public School District board.

“Education is about building the kind of community that we want tomorrow.”

He said when he and the superintendent met with the minister of education six weeks ago, the minister talked about the necessity of making substantial cuts to the budget next year based on natural gas prices being depressed. However, Stuebing said now, six weeks later, prices are more than double what they were then and close to the amounts on which the provincial budget was established.

“I would like us to be very sure of the necessity for these cuts before we begin to contemplate them,” Stuebing said.

The Stop the Cuts campaign is backed by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Boards Association and the Alberta School Councils’ Association.

The six-week campaign will continue until Nov. 22.

More information is available at www.stopthecuts.ca

“(The campaign) is just trying to promote that we need to invest in the education of our children,” said Christine Moore, chair of the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division board.

“People have come together to show strength in their belief of the investment. It’s vital to the future of the province.”

Moore said she thinks school boards will be facing cuts next year.

But she said they will give the best education to the students with what they have and are confident they can do that.

“We just have to ride the storm and do our very best,” she said.

A Stop the Cuts Rally being put on by Public Interest Alberta and Friends of Medicare is meeting at the Kinsmen Community Hall at 4726 34th Street in Red Deer at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, and marching to the Progressive Conservative party convention in Red Deer.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com