Dear Parents of Strathmore Area schools:
Though you may not have heard much about this in the media, we are finding that the most recent budget announcement is turning out to be the one of the toughest budgets we have dealt with in the last decade. It has the potential to significantly impact our classrooms, programming, busing and other supports we currently have in place for students. We need your help as we try to make decisions and put together a plan for our schools and classrooms.
School boards all across Alberta have been carefully managing their financial affairs for years while provincial funding has been highly unpredictable. In fact, the province’s funding per student has been less each of the last 3 years.
Boards already have had to make cuts to try to set some money aside ourselves, just so we could have contingency funds to cover increased costs (some imposed by the province) and surprise funding reductions. The last time the provincial government promised multi-year predictable funding, Premier Redford cut it part way through its first year. This forced Boards to honour contracts without the promised money for them.
School boards have been planning ahead and setting aside contingency money and then managing it to continue programs in the classroom, for transportation, and for building operations and maintenance. The recently announced budget reduces funding in all of these areas and more. In addition the provincial government has announced it intends to intervene and stop our contingency fund management, and do it themselves. We will not be able to decide how to use our money to deal with local challenges and opportunities.
School trustees are the only elected officials specifically chosen by Albertans to manage education and act on behalf of students and their families. Locally, we have successfully managed major provincial funding cuts in the past. While we would like to work with the government to do the best we can for our students in the current provincial economic circumstances, the government’s approach is not respectful, nor does it leave any room for local decision making. Our ability to act on behalf of local students, families and all electors will be severely compromised.
Please join us at a public meeting to discuss our challenges for next year and provide your feedback on April 27st at 7:00 p.m. We will meet in the Strathmore High School theatre.
Dave Price, Board Chair Joyce Bazant, Trustee Larry Tucker, Trustee