MLA, school trustee deplore government cuts to schools

School supporters: Julie Hrdlicka, Trustee for Calgary Board of Education, left, and Rakhi Pancholi, NDP MLA, after a panel presentation on what Kenney government’s budget cuts mean for kids. The meeting was held at the Shawnessy Public Library on Nov. 24.(Photo by Marijo Abad}/SAIT)

The Kenney government is not keeping up with the need to support public and Catholic system students, a public meeting has been told.

Rakhi Pancholi, an Edmonton area MLA for the NDP, and Julie Hrdlicka,  trustee for Calgary Board of Education, spoke about the provincial government’s budget cuts, and how they will affect kids. The discussion was held at the Shawnessy Public Library on Nov. 24.

Pancholi said that the budget, which has not yet been passed, is opposed by the NDP.

“What we see that’s very clear is that much of what people were anxious about was absolutely valid,” said Pancholi.

“We are talking a little about the impact on kids and families and classrooms,” she said.

Pancholi said grant reductions in the budget will result in cuts to what is available to put into classrooms, per student.

“For the last nine years, the money that we have received from the government has not kept pace with the demands that our kids need to support them in our system,” said Hrdlicka.

The CBE is given an envelope of money from the government.

Hrdlicka said that the money is redirected to the classroom.

Hrdlicka added that that there is a second batch of money that the CBE receives which is approximately $9,000 a student.

“We take that money and we disperse it throughout the city based on the need,” said Hrdlicka.

She said that there are communities and schools that have different needs.

“We as a system, make a decision based on the best needs of our kids to support them,” said Hrdlicka.

She said that some communities have kids with high risk or kids with special needs more than others.

“So the money doesn’t follow the child,” said the trustee.

Hrdlicka said that teachers’ aides will no longer be available, nor will the librarians or librarian assistants.

“They no longer have those people to rely on,” said Hrdlicka, referring to the students.

Pancholi said that cuts will also be made to post-secondary institutions, and the Alberta child and family benefit program.

She also said that the support for child care is going to end this year.

“We know that there have been cuts to a lot of child care subsidies,” said Pancholi.

Those affected would include parents who rely on family members to provide child care.

“That subsidy has been cut,” said the MLA.

Pancholi also said that stay-at-home parents who are sending their kids to pre-school or early education has been cut.

“It irritates me,” said Laura Saunder, a stay-at-home mother.

“We know that it’s hard for a lot of parents here in Alberta because there has been a lot of cuts in regards to jobs, and when there are cuts in regards to jobs, it’s hard for families to survive in Calgary,” said Saunder.

“This directly affects the children,” said Saunder.

Saunder was laid off from her job a year ago and has been struggling to find a job in her field.

“We have come to the point where we think it’s okay to devalue public education and that is what has gotten us here,” said Hrdlicka.

“We are in a very challenging position.”

“Stay tuned because this is going to get a whole lot worse,” said Pancholi.

“The purpose of the support and grants is to help families have a better life, Kenney is cutting their standard of living,” said Saunder.


Education supporters: Julie Hrdlicka, Trustee for Calgary Board of Education, left, and Rakhi Pancholi, NDP MLA, discussed what the Kenney government’s cuts mean for kids during a panel presentation. The discussion was held at the Shawnessy Public Library on Nov. 24. (Photo by Marijo Abad/SAIT)