Clearview board committed to students despite funding cuts

Clearview to appeal to MLAs to seek firm funding commitment.

Educating students remains top priority for the local school division despite funding cuts to schools by the provincial government recently announced.

“Our commitment remains to delivering a high quality program to students in our schools,” said Ken Checkel who chairs Clearview School Division board, which discussed the issue at its regular meeting Sept. 17.

Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock recently announced clawbacks to school divisions around the province based upon their determination of a board’s ability to pay out of reserves, with $567,606 being taken from Clearview School Division.

Reserves are funds Clearview has saved to cover areas such as: construction and modernizations, school buses, purchases by schools such as textbooks and equipment, and funds to cover emergent items such as heating system replacement.

“As a board of trustees, we are frustrated by the fact that we have had $567,606 clawed back by Alberta Education,” said Checkel.

“We believe that decisions like this directly infringe on our board’s mandate to responsibly govern Clearview.”

Trustees plan to contact the education minister and local MLAs Jack Hayden (Drumheller-Stettler) and Doug Griffiths (Battler River – Wainwright) to express their dissatisfaction with this action and invite them to meet with the board and administration to look ahead and plan for the future.

East Central Alberta Catholic Separate Schools Regional Division will continue with business as usual.

“Schools will continue as they have been operating,” said Jim Brady who chairs the board.

He is not surprised with these cuts considering the economy of the province and beyond.

“It’s always disappointing when this happens,” said Brady.

“With the current economy, we’ve got to work together through it.”

“It is what it is and we’ve got to get on with it.”

“We will do the best we can.”

Local board chairs and superintendents joined colleagues from all over Alberta as the Alberta School Boards Association discussed the issue with Education Minister Hancock on Sept. 12 after Hancock met with superintendents and board chairs of central Alberta school divisions on Sept. 9.

Late in August, Hancock announced Alberta Education’s $6.3-billion budget would be cut by $80 million this year because of province’s ballooning deficit – more than half the cuts will come from a clawback of school division reserves.

With its first quarter economic update projecting a deficit in the current fiscal year of $6.9 billion, the government of Alberta is seeking to reduce its spending by $430 million and is looking to the province’s education system to pony up $80 million of this—money that will be taken from the education department and clawed back from school boards.

While this year’s budget cuts are significant, next year’s cuts promise to be much worse, running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.