Fee frustration remains for some Alberta parents, despite government reducing certain school fees

Some Alberta parents still frustrated with school fees, despite the province cutting certain fees in 2017
Fri, Oct 5: Fee frustration continues for some Alberta parents faced with hefty bills this school year Global's Tomasia DaSilva reports on what parents are still paying for and how much it varies across the province.

Bill 1, which was proclaimed by the Alberta government in June 2017, phased out some school fees — but not all of them — which has some Alberta parents lamenting how much they still have to pay.

“I think we’re paying a bit more than what we should,” Calgary father Abdel Selmi said. “Especially for the service that we get.”

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Parents in Alberta still have to pay for services including noon supervision, activities and busing–depending how far they live from their designated school.

Those fees can add up to hundreds of dollars, depending on the school and on the services provided.

WATCH: Alberta government phasing out school fees

“Noon supervision fees is where it’s hurting everybody,” Calgary mother Brittany Moore said. “We’re paying $250 at this school for the year.”

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“If it was less, that would be a whole lot better, because we’re not doing so hot at my house.”

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School fees also vary widely depending on the city you live in, as well as what school system you belong to.

For example, the Calgary Board of Education charges $265 to $295 for noon supervision for children in kindergarten to Grade 6. Edmonton’s Public School District charges $130 to $170.

The Calgary Catholic School Board charges $80 for the same service, while Edmonton’s Catholic School District doesn’t charge at all.

There are also variances in busing costs across the province, although they are not as big.

Alberta’s premier said eliminating the remaining fees is a work in progress.

“We know that there are pockets here and there where there are still some fees in play,” Rachel Notley said. “But we know that overall, there has been a significant benefit felt by the vast majority of families.”

READ MORE: Province promises new regulations will reduce school fees for Alberta parents

Provincial education officials point out that parents are saving money since the changes.

Back in the 2015-16 year, school fees cost Alberta families roughly $60 million.

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Parents acknowledge fees have gone down, but said they’re still too high.

“School is getting only bigger and more kids,” Selmi said. “So I feel paying more school fees is not really fair for less stuff.”

Parents who cannot afford to pay school fees can apply to have those fees waived.