BOW VALLEY – Canadian Rockies Public Schools will be reviewing the potential impact the provincial government’s budget will have on its own for the coming year.
At its March 15 monthly meeting, CRPS staff and the board said they would look at how it may affect the local budget.
“A budget has recently come out from the Alberta government, and we received our profile,” said CRPS superintendent Chris MacPhee. “We are still analyzing it.”
The provincial budget earmarked a bump to Alberta Education of five per cent – or $430 million – to more than $8.8 billion in 2023-24.
One of the biggest adjustments that will impact CRPS is the change in transportation funding.
There will be an increase of 32 per cent in new funding, which provides funding for kindergarten to Grade 6 students who reside more than one kilometre from their school. There will also be funding for Grade 7 to Grade 12 students who reside two kilometres or further from their school.
“With our situation, we are well placed too early to adapt our walking distance to the one and two kilometres,” said CRPS secretary-treasurer Mike Guindon. “That will provide more additional funding to our transportation.”
Teachers will receive a two per cent increase in their salaries beginning September 2023, and $47 million will be invested towards teaching professional learning and quality teaching resources.
The provincial budget included a new funding envelope called classroom complexity. More than $42 million was allocated to hire more educational assistants, increase hours and provide more training opportunities.
Mental health pilot projects in schools will receive $40 million, while operations and maintenance grants will increase by five per cent.
“Student well-being, that is new funding and that will be something we can apply,” said Guindon.
Support and services grants, which include specialized learning supports, program unit funding, English as an additional language, as well as refugee, First Nations, Metis and Inuit grants increased by 10 per cent.
There was also an increase of 20 per cent in the School Nutrition Grant to allow schools to help deal with the rising cost of food.
The question of funding for international student program funding was also raised by the board.
“The international student program, we set our rates usually on what we see through other schools in the country,” MacPhee said. “We are looking at that closely. We will have to see where our budget numbers go.”
CRPS has taken what it learned from the new budget, and will begin to prepare its own budget.
“We are working with our senior admin team to start drafting our first draft of the budget,” said Guindon. “We are going through the steps of drafting it.”
The budget must be submitted to Alberta Education by May 30.
“From what we are seeing, thus far, is we are very optimistic with the budget that has been placed in front of us,” said MacPhee.