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Alberta’s education minister suggests busing fees are at the root of CBE operational review

File: Alberta Minister of Education David Eggen.
File: Alberta Minister of Education David Eggen. Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press

Alberta’s education minister suggested Monday that busing fees are at the heart of an operational review ordered for the Calgary Board of Education (CBE).

While talking to reporters, David Eggen would not say specifically what prompted the review, which was announced late last week.

READ MORE: Calgary public school trustees demand meeting with education minister

But he alluded to the dispute between the province and the CBE over its busing fees for alternative programs, and how they relate to the government’s new regulations under Bill 1, which will see specific school fees eliminated.

“With the new regulations in place, any school fee of any type that exceeds five per cent must be approved by my office. That’s the new reality here in the province of Alberta,” Eggen said during a news conference.

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The review, to begin later this summer, will take a comprehensive look at the CBE’s financial records and transportation fees.

“They (the CBE) had made it fairly clear that they were not able to have their transportation and some other functions smoothly operating, so I wanted to make sure that we are using these public monies in the best way possible,” Eggen explained.

READ MORE: Alberta students get break on cost of public transit pass

The CBE review is the only one in the province, but Eggen pointed out there are audits of school boards periodically.

Eggen suggested it’s unacceptable for school boards to continue to charge major fees when Bill 1 prohibits them.

“For people to bring forward school fee increases that exceed five per cent – they have to come to my desk,” he said. “Certainly there were some bus transportation fees in Calgary that were probably exceeding 100 per cent.”