Edmonton Public School Board tables $1.2B budget, but some say it isn’t enough

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Public Schools approves $1.2B budget, says it’s ‘not sustainable’'
Edmonton Public Schools approves $1.2B budget, says it’s ‘not sustainable’
WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Public School Board approved a $1.2 billion budget Friday, but behind the number there's a lot of concern. The board is worried, at the rate the division is being funded, it will become impossible to operate. Nicole Stillger has more – May 27, 2022

The Edmonton Public School Board approved a $1.2-billion budget for the upcoming school year on Friday, but board members are concerned the budget isn’t keeping pace with reality.

“We always knew that this new funding formula coming from the provincial government, we knew it wouldn’t work,” board chair Trisha Estabrooks said.

The funding formula is based on average student populations. Estabrooks said there are 1,700 students within the system that are considered not funded.

“There are jobs that will be lost as a result of this tight budget, and so when we remove teaching positions or educational assistants because of a tight budget from our classrooms, that results in larger class sizes,” Estabrooks said.

Story continues below advertisement

About 138 educational assistant positions are on the chopping block, according to the board. There are also pressures linked to inflation, staffing and increased fixed costs like utilities, maintenance and insurance.

In a statement, Alberta Education said, “EPSB continues to be extremely well funded and operational funding is estimated to increase by $10.8 million in the upcoming school year.”

The province said during the last two school years, the EPBS received its anticipated funding, despite having fewer students than projected.

Wing Li, a mother and representative of Support our Students Alberta, said she noticed the impacts of an underfunded school system even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Immediately, she lost a librarian in her school,” Li recalled of when her daughter started elementary school. “Then the parents were asked to volunteer to be librarians.”

Li is about to have two kids in the public school system. She is concerned the gaps will only get wider.

“It’s not sustainable for public education to be so underfunded, especially in a time like this,” Li said. “This is really about undermining education.

“Long-term, this will have detrimental effects on public education.”

Story continues below advertisement

Despite the province’s assurances, the school board doesn’t believe the numbers add up and there will have to be cuts. Edmonton Public Schools said it expects the number of education assistants will fluctuate and some will be hired back as schools get a sense of what the needs are.

Sponsored content