ASBA President’s statement re: Possible 9 per cent cut to provincial budget

ASBA President Helen Clease issued the following statement today:

In the wake of Premier Jim Prentice’s recent reference to a possible 9 per cent reduction to Alberta’s provincial budget, the ASBA is concerned about the impact any cuts will have on classrooms in Alberta.

School boards have been doing more with less for a number of years.  Even when oil prices were good, in times of prosperity, we have not always seen increases in per student funding. Cost of living increases, contractual obligations, reduction of grants and lack of infrastructure have forced school boards to continually look for efficiencies and find ways to save in light of fluctuating and unpredictable funding.

Further cuts to education now will have a devastating impact on our already stressed classrooms.  We currently face the challenge of keeping class sizes manageable, meeting individual student needs, providing resources to our classrooms, providing supports for our teachers, making sure we have adequate staff to meet the needs in our schools, transporting students and providing space in our already overcrowded schools.  Any additional cuts will severely impact student learning.

Even during times of austerity we must continue to provide quality learning environments and opportunities.  We owe it to our students.

We need stable, predictable sustainable funding to guarantee that every child in Alberta is provided the best opportunities to learn.  These opportunities cannot be driven by the price of oil.

I have had numerous conversations with Education Minister Gordon Dirks regarding our concerns.  He has assured me that he is advocating for education and we both agree that education must be a top priority.   I am hopeful that will be reflected in the budget.

Between now and budget time I encourage every Albertan who cares about the quality of education to speak up for our kids.

Education is an important investment in our future.