Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announces new K-12 funding model. Photo courtesy Government of Alberta live stream Feb. 18, 2020.
The Lethbridge School Division says without seeing the numbers, it’s difficult to comment on the impact of the province’s new education funding model.
On Tuesday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the new model will streamline operations and direct more dollars to each school district, adding each division will see an increase in operational funding in the 2020-2021 school year.
While no dollar figures will be released until after the budget is tabled on February 27th, LaGrange says the province wanted to make the announcement Tuesday because it’s a “very complex system.”
While the details are vague, LaGrange says dollars will come from efficiencies, a reduction in red tape, and ways for school administrations to “do things differently.”
In a written statement, the local public school district says it’s pleased to see the simplified grant structure as well as the government’s recognition of the need for supports and services for ESL, refugees and FNMI learners and that the new funding structure also looks promising for reduced administrative reporting.
However, the Lethbridge School Division says it will not know the full impact until specific details are released.
The funding model will also change from one-year enrolment counts to a moving three-year average which LaGrange says will help school divisions plan their finances in advance of the school year.
Critics though, say this system favours rural schools with steady or declining enrolment and is a disadvantage for urban schools with increasing student populations each year.
Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips says the provincial government is “trying to pull a fast one” on parents, teachers, school boards and kids by announcing a new K to 12 funding model a week before the budget.
She says it’s a way for those in government to make themselves feel better about cutting education funding saying “this is just the Minister trying to throw sand in our eyes and snow us under with a bunch of bureaucratic gobbledygook to paper over the fact that as the education system grows, that is to say there’s more kids in it every year, there are fewer dollars to go around.”
Phillips says the UCP government is choosing to give away $4.7-billion to large corporations who haven’t created a single job instead of spending the appropriate amount of money for each new kid who walks into school each year.