Calgary Board of Education budget calls for increased class sizes and layoffs

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Calgary Board of Education budget calls for increased class sizes and layoffs
WATCH: The Calgary Board of Education presented its 2019-20 budget to trustees on Tuesday and it includes bigger class sizes, layoffs and reduced services. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Jun 18, 2019

The Calgary Board of Education presented its 2019-2020 budget to trustees on Tuesday and it includes increased class sizes, layoffs and service cuts.

The CBE is expecting an additional 1,800 students this fall but despite the growth, the new budget is calling for cuts, with funds remaining flat.

Alberta Election Fact Check: Would a UCP spending freeze mean no more teachers and thousands of new students?

“We are anticipating the same amount of dollars next year but that won’t be able to cover our increasing costs,” said trustee Trina Hurdman at Tuesday’s meeting.

$22 million will be saved by increasing class sizes by an average of one student.

According to Hurdman, it will translate into three full-time equivalent teaching positions in high schools and a half full-time equivalent in elementary schools.

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“Over the past few years we have tried to cut everywhere and anywhere outside of our classrooms but this year the shortfall is just too great.

When asked if there will be any new teachers hired this fall, Hurdman said: “We are doing our best to maintain the staff that we have.”

READ MORE: Calgary schools preparing for expected increase in students, possible teacher loss this fall

$3 million in cuts will be made to service units. That includes departments like HR, communications and IT, which have been cut in previous years.

The board is currently in the process of laying off staff but wouldn’t say how many people it would affect.

“I think the reason you don’t hear that from parents is that they don’t see us on a daily basis and they don’t experience the work we do but our schools do. And our schools start to feel that when the person that they used to call isn’t there anymore or is only there part time,” said CBE CFO Brad Grundy.

The president of the ATA local 38 warns that increased class sizes are the equivalent of not hiring over 200 teachers and he says the cuts will affect some staff.

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“That has placed all our schools in jeopardy of losing teachers and support staff. We know for a fact we are losing well over 200 teachers,” Bob Cocking said.

“We have around 100 educational assistants that don’t have a position for the fall and that equates to what happens in the classroom now,” said Cocking.

READ MORE: Alberta promises to fund fall school enrolment growth

The province has said enrolment growth will be accounted for but the board is warning of uncertainty, saying this budget is still a work in progress because it hasn’t received any firm numbers from the government.

“Specific details for the upcoming budget will be communicated following approval by the legislature in the fall. In the meantime, interim supply will keep the system whole until a full budget is presented in the fall,” said Colin Aitchison, Education press secretary, in a statement to Global News.

Trustees vote on the budget next week.

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