Lethbridge school divisions and Chamber of Commerce react to Alberta Budget

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge School Division and the Chamber of Commerce react to provincial budget'
Lethbridge School Division and the Chamber of Commerce react to provincial budget
It's been a few days since the provincial budget was released, but some stakeholders are still crunching the numbers. Taz Dhaliwal has more on the local reaction. – Mar 2, 2020

As more details about Alberta Budget 2020 surface, Lethbridge school divisions are figuring out what it means for classrooms.

To that end, the budget maintains operational funding at current levels for core services: $8.2 billion for kindergarten to Grade 12 education and $20.6 billion for health.

“They’re not funding inflation as the years carry on and they’re not funding enrolment fully as the years carry on for us because we’re a growing division.

“We’ll continue to work with what we have,” said Clark Bosch, the board chair for the Lethbridge School Division.

READ MORE: Alberta budget 2020 winners and losers

Both the Lethbridge and Palliser school divisions will be getting about $1 million more than they did last year.

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Dexter Dufey, the secretary treasurer for the Palliser School Division said, from his understanding, all the different school divisions in Alberta will be receiving more funding than they did in the fall budget.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge reacts to 2020 Alberta budget'
Lethbridge reacts to 2020 Alberta budget

“This is a new framework and what that means is that the manner in which districts are funded looks a lot different than it has in the past 12 years, since the previous funding framework,” said Supt. Cheryl Gilmore, with the Lethbridge School Division.

The government has also reduced the amount of grants from 36 to 15, however both districts noted that doesn’t necessarily means less money is available.

Although, it does mean less red tape for the school when it applies for grants.

READ MORE: Alberta streamlines grants, changes formula for K-12 education funding

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“It has a significant decrease in the requirements for reporting on school boards, so that’s going to save us time and effort,” Durfey said. “Many of our grants had a lot of reporting that had to be done.”

All three districts in Lethbridge say their main focus is ensuring the needs of the students are met as much as possible, and they will work hard to ensure there are no cuts to jobs.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge-West MLA calls out UCP for funding cutting funding for school divisions'
Lethbridge-West MLA calls out UCP for funding cutting funding for school divisions

On the business front, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce says the city has its diverse job economy to lean on.

“We have a great network and collaborative team, who’s really trying to put business, economic drivers in the forefront of our community,” said Cyndi Vos, the executive officer with the Lethbridge Chamber.

READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta budget 2020

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Vos adds the tourism and tech industries in Lethbridge have potential to grow as those two industries are getting more funding, however it’s not yet known how the province will distribute that money.

The province is investing $200 million to fund innovation and leverage partners in areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, aviation, tourism and financial tech.

Alberta is also developing a 10-year tourism strategy with the goal of doubling tourism spending to $20 billion by 2030.

With files from the Canadian Press 

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