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Potential grant cut forces Alberta Science Network to charge for previously-free education presentations

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Educators who want to use the Alberta Science Network’s presentations have to cough up some cash for the previously cost-free programs.

The Alberta Science Network (ASN) has been able to give their The Scientists & Engineers-in-the-classroom (SEitC) and Chemistry All Around You (CAAY) programs at no cost because donations and grants had covered it.

Apparently, that’s changed.

“Our largest supporter is the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. We have recently been informed by the Ministry that our grant will be significantly impacted, and possibly eliminated,” said the Alberta Science Network in a release.

“In order to continue to offer SEitC and CAAY presentations, the ASN Board of Directors regrets that it is necessary to introduce a user fee for all ASN classroom presentations.”

The user fee is $120 per program, which is comparable to similar science outreach organizations, the group said.

Multiple attempts to contact ASN directly via email and phone went unanswered.

What these science programs offer

SEitC, the network’s core program, brings volunteer engineers and scientists to the classroom to talk about the applicability of science in modern life.

CAAY is presented by two volunteers out of Edmonton that showcases how chemical reactions from everyday materials occur in the world.

For the remainder of 2019, the science classes that have been booked will remain cost free and will only charge classes after Jan. 1.

ASN’s grant is still in effect for the rest of the year and may stay with the them in 2020, according to the province.

“We are providing a grant to the Alberta Science Network as part of Budget 2019. They have submitted a funding proposal to the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism that is currently under review,” the province wrote in an emailed response to questions.

“The previous government’s reckless fiscal policy has caused us to examine our funding as we work to balance the budget, and the Alberta Science Network has numerous private sector partners that provide funding to the organization.”

The user fee could affect programming across the public system in Calgary.

“Our schools have the option to use community programs to supplement their instruction of the Alberta Program of Studies. This includes field trips and bringing in specialized programs into the classroom,” the CBE said in an emailed response to questions.

“These decisions are made at the school level based on resources available.”