Trustees with the Edmonton Public School Board met Tuesday to discuss the effect that changes to provincial funding for education will have on its services, and said students with disabilities will feel the impact.
At the EPSB meeting, trusteets discussed changes coming to the Program Unit Funding (PUF) that is aimed at supporting students with disabilities or delays.
“The funding for PUF is moving from a three-year to a two-year model,” EPSB Chair Trish Estabrooks said.
“When you look at the numbers for Edmonton Public Schools, right now… just over 1,000 students are funded through our Program Unit Funding. Under the new model, that will essentially be cut in half.”
Trustee Bridget Stirling said she was frustrated in general with what she called “the dishonest framing of what is happening in education in Alberta.”
“In particular, the way that it is targeting the most vulnerable students,” she said.
According to the EPSB, this year they received $39 million in funding for PUF and they expect to get $9.5 million next school year.
That will see the number of hub schools that offer the program drop from 10 to six and 22 satellite locations suspended.
In January, as it was conducting a funding review, a spokesperson for Alberta Education said the department had been “engaging school boards and education partners to hear their perspectives as we work towards a new funding model.”
“The goal with this new model is to better manage system growth, ensure funds are directed to the classroom and to provide all boards with sustainable and predictable funding for the years to come. Program Unit Funding will continue to be an important part of this new model.”
Supt. Darrel Robertson said the board is trying to manage the fact that it has growing needs for student supports.
“There will be more interventions required for students in our programs in the coming years,” he said, “whether that’s literacy interventions, numeracy interventions, behavioural interventions — all of those supports we will need to continue to provide and augment.”
The trustees also said the EPSB has a gap in funding when it comes to transportation. Next year, bus fees are being changed and will rise for 52 per cent of students’ families.
–With files from Global News’ Breanna Karstens-Smith
Watch below: (From Jan. 23, 2020) Some Alberta parents are outraged by the provincial government’s decision to review program funding for young children with disabilities. Emily Olsen reports.