Parents and students concerned about future CBE cuts

Uncertain Future: Students leave Nickle School in Calgary on Jan. 21. Many of them have expressed concern about the recent CBE budget cuts and what it will mean for them in the coming years. (Photo by Amanda McColl/SAIT)

The Calgary Board of Education has approved a mid-year budget, under the watchful eye of the Kenney government.

Despite an increase in enrollment, the CBE has seen a $32-million shortage in funding.

While the board was allowed by the Department of Education to pull $15 million from CBE infrastructure maintenance funding, many parents and students wonder what will happen after this year.

“We don’t know what’s going on, what’s staying, what’s going,” said Leanna Wells.

Wells’s son, Zain, 12, is a student at Nickle Junior High School in southeast. Zain agreed with his mother’s take on things.

“I just want to know if my teachers are still going to be here next year.”

Zain Wells said a lot of his fellow students are worried about classes that aren’t core subjects.

“We know that stuff like art probably won’t get any money but we still want to do it.”

Between the increase in busing fees that parents have already had to face and  uncertainty over which teachers were going to be returning after the winter break, parents want some concrete answers, Leanna Wells said. The lack of solid information is the biggest frustration.

“Just tell us what to expect,” she said.

An audit of the CBE’s financial situation is being conducted by Grant Thornton LLP and is expected to cost between $100,000 to $125,000.

Controversy broke out in late January, when Trustee Lisa Davis suddenly resigned from the board, over the issue of co-operation with the auditors.

Trustee Michael Bradshaw was vocal in his opposition of the new budget, but said that the board has to do what’s best for the students in the long run.

“These cuts are already affecting things that will ultimately affect their learning,” said Bradshaw.

He said that he hopes that open communication can bridge the gap in understanding that he sees.

“We need to share our story, advocate along with our parents and staff so that the people making the decisions about our funding understand the impact they are having on the future of our province.”

Bradshaw had gone on record calling the provincial government’s cuts to education a matter of human rights.

His tactic of sharing impact makes sense to Wells.

“I have to wonder if the province has any idea what they’re doing to these kids.”

Colin Aitchison, the press secretary for the minister of education, Adriana LaGrange, was cautious about the current situation.

We will have more to say once the review has been complete. – Colin Aitchison

“Grant Thornton’s work is currently under way and we are awaiting their final report. It would be premature to assume the results of the review.”

Aitchison was, however, open to discussion once the audit is complete.

“We will have more to say once the review has been complete.”


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