Increased provincial funding for education and a plan to reduce school fees has been welcomed by High Prairie School Division.
“We are pleased that the government is making life more affordable and protecting the programs and services families count on,” says Tammy Henkel, who chairs the board.
Those were key points for schools in the budget announced March 16 by Finance Minister Joe Ceci and Premier Rachel Notley of the NDP government, halfway through its first term in office.
“Funding for new student growth will ensure we have the resources we need to educate the youth of tomorrow,’ Henkel says.
“Decreasing school fees will make life more affordable for our parents.”
She and the division appreciate the commitment of funding for new schools and renovations.
“We will continue to advocate for the school modernization goals outlined in our three-year capital plan,” Henkel says.
Modernization projects for E.W. Pratt High School in High Prairie and Georges. P. Vanier School in Donnelly are part of the three-year capital plan for HPSD.
“We will continue to pursue these projects with the Alberta government to find ways to achieve these goals,” Henkel says.
If passed, Bill 1, An Act to Reduce School Fees, would eliminate specific school charges and would eliminate school boards’ ability to levy fees for instructional materials or supplies, or transportation fees for eligible students, says a news release from the provincial government.
“Through Budget 2017, school boards would receive funding to offset the loss of fee revenues as a result of Bill 1,” Education Minister David Eggen says.
“This would help ensure that boards would be able to maintain or increase the education programming they provide to students.”
If passed, the budget would also increase overall funding for education by $213 million in 2017-18 over the 2016-17 forecast, providing school boards with dollars for every new student and protecting grants for First Nations students, English language learners and others with diverse learning needs.
If Bill 1 is passed, the definition of instructional supplies or materials will be established in the new school fees regulation and include fees for textbooks, workbooks, photocopying, printing/paper, and any common fees charged to an entire student body or grade.
These common fees are often referred to as, among other titles, instructional fees, instructional materials or basic fees.
For transportation fees, if a child is enrolled in his or her designated school, and that school is greater than 2.4 kilometres away from home, families will not be charged any transportation fees.