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GOA promises $110 million to Calgary Board of Education, no firm details yet on how it will be spent

Alberta’s Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, announced that the province will be providing more than $820 million dollars over three years to school boards to help offset rising costs from increased enrollment.

The funding will be provided in a variety of different grants, including the supplemental enrolment growth grant. The province has promised to increase the overall budget for education by an additional $2 billion over three years.

“This will support school authorities to hire approximately 3,000 educational staff, including teachers, educational assistants, bus drivers and support staff and will help manage class sizes,” said Minister LaGrange.

Operational funding to boards from the department of education, excluding capital investments, federal funding, and funding from board reserves, is expected to increase from $8.216 billion in 2023, to $8.461 billion in 2025.

The Calgary Board of Education is expected to receive $110 million of that promised grant funding funding for the next school year.

Laura Hack, trustee chair for the Calgary Board of Education, said that the funding would help to support the more than 5,800 extra students that have enrolled into the public system.

“That’s enough to fill 10 elementary schools, more arriving each day, and next year we are projecting another significant increase,” she said.

“This investment means that we can hire teachers, educational assistants and other staff who are needed to support the students we have and are expecting to have over the next few years.”

Hack said that the board would be examining the funding to determine how many new teachers and staff would be hired as a result of the funding.

“Our administration is going to have to go through the numbers go through what our funding profile looks like,” Hack said.

“I don’t have an answer for how many that’s going to be and what it’s going to look like, but I know that there is a focus to make sure that we have be hiring more teachers, more educational assistants.”

Current funding base operating funding model to continue for schools

Minister LaGrange said that the province will continue to use the weighted moving average system that was introduced by the current government.

That system averages out enrollment between actual enrolment for the previous year, estimated enrollment for the current year, and projected enrollment for upcoming years in a 20 per cent, 30 per cent, and 50 per cent ratio.

She said that the grant funding would make up some additional dollars.

“We’re still using the weighted moving average. But what it does is add additional dollars in all of the grant areas whether it’s based grant funding or whether it’s for a specialized learning support funding,” said Minister LaGrange.

Under the funding manual for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, the supplemental enrolment growth grant will provide funding in $0, $1,500, and $3,000 increments based on student numbers.

Growth between 0 and 2 per cent will not have any additional funding. Growth between 2 per cent and 5 per cent will receive the $1,500 per full-time equivalent student, and over 5 per cent, $3,000 per full-time equivalent student.

Minister LaGrange said that additional funding would be coming in the form of a $126 million grant for complex need students that would go to support educational assistants with increased hours, or the hiring of new EAs.

“We also appreciate the autonomy and flexibility that is attached to this increased funding,” said Hack.

“School boards know their communities, and we are in the best position to make decisions on behalf of our students.”