Education for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 was a top priority for the provincial government in 2017.
Government demonstrated the importance of education by continuing to fund for enrolment, introducing legislation to protect all students and saving Alberta families hundreds of dollars by reducing school fees, says a news release dated Dec. 27.
The Northland School Division Act to reinstate the school division in the High Prairie region, the School Amendment Act, and acts to reduce school fees and support gay-straight alliances were the four significant education bills that became law in 2017 to make life better for Alberta families.
“Looking back on the past year, I am so proud of all that we have done and I am excited to continue to build a better, stronger education system in 2018,” Education Minister David Eggen says.
“One of the most important investments we can make in the future of our province is investing in our children’s education.”
Here’s a recap of the highlights as laid out by Eggen.
-Saving families $54 million by reducing school fees for 600,000 students:
In June 2017, government proclaimed An Act to Reduce School Fees, which eliminated fees for specific instructional supplies and materials, as well as transportation fees for students who live 2.4 kilometres or more away from their designated school.
-Feeding some of our most vulnerable kids so they have more energy and can better focus on learning:
Through a $3.5-million school nutrition pilot in the 2016-17 school year, the government provided daily snacks, breakfast or lunch to about 5,000 students in 33 schools.
“We have expanded the program to help more than 21,000 students daily in 200 schools in the 2017-18 school year, thanks to an additional $10-million investment,” Eggen says.
-Investing in teachers and classrooms:
In fall 2017, more than 50 new school and modernization projects opened, which created about 36,000 new student spaces.
Through a $75-million investment to the Classroom Improvement Fund, more than 225 teaching jobs and 175 support positions will be created, ensuring students get the attention they need to thrive.
For the first time, Alberta Education funded playgrounds through grants of up to $250,000 for more than 70 new schools announced between 2014 and 2018.
-Ensuring students can form gay-straight alliances without fear of being outed:
In November 2017, government introduced a bill to ensure that all students can safely form gay-straight alliances and that all schools will be safe and welcoming for all students regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances came into effect on Dec. 15.