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Teachers warn ‘Band-Aid solution’ won’t solve funding problems in Calgary schools

CBE reverses layoffs but is increasing school bus fees
WATCH: The Calgary Board of Education met on Tuesday to discuss its budget. As Gil Tucker reports, 317 temporary positions were saved until the end of the school year but the cost of student transportation will be going up for parents.

The union that represents 8,000 teachers in Calgary says a last-minute move to save hundreds of teaching jobs won’t solve long-term problems facing the city’s public schools.

The comment came Tuesday outside a Calgary Board of Education trustees meeting, during which trustees finalized plans to rescind the layoffs of 317 temporary teachers.

The board plans to cover the costs of keeping the teachers by reallocating school maintenance money announced on Dec. 3.

READ MORE: Calgary Board of Education reverses teacher layoffs while Catholic board hikes school bus fees

Last week, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange provided a one-time exception on annual maintenance renewal funding.

The CBE decision means the 317 teachers, who were going to be laid off on Jan. 2, will stay on until the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“This is great news. I think it’s wonderful that this is happening,” said Bob Cocking, the Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 38 president.

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LISTEN: Education Minister Adriana LaGrange joins Danielle Smith to discuss the tough decisions made for education boards under the budget

“It’s just unfortunate the timing of it. It’s too bad the teachers were put through this roller-coaster in the first place. It’s not just them; it’s also the kids in their class and their parents and the school itself that had to go through this emotional roller-coaster.”

Cocking said he doubts the move will lead to a long-term solution for funding problems in Calgary schools.

“This is going to be a Band-Aid solution for the current time,” Cocking said. “Each year when we have enrolment growth, [the CBE] will not keep up with increasing staff that would be required, so we’re definitely going to see increases in class sizes in the coming years.”

READ MORE: Calgary Board of Education to cut 300 temporary teachers amid $32M shortfall

The CBE meeting also finalized plans to increase the costs of busing for many Calgary families.

Six-thousand students exempt from fees will now pay $365 in annual fees, retroactively to the start of the 2019-20 school year.

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The CBE said $32 million in provincial funding cuts are the main factor in its budget struggles.

But the chair of the board said she looks forward to co-operating with an education ministry audit of the CBE’s finances and a review of its governance.

“We can anticipate challenging days ahead,” CBE board chair Marilyn Dennis said.

“But at the same time, we look forward to working with this government to help them understand who our students are, who it is we serve each and every day.”