Clearview to use increased funding for class instruction

Harvest time in the garden – Stettler Community Garden looks lush and productive in its inaugural season as Brenda Shaffer

Clearview School Division is pleased that more funding will go to class instruction since the provincial government has kept its promise to provide funding to cover a province-wide pay rise of 2.92 per cent for teachers approved last spring.

“It is good news,” said Ken Checkel, who chairs the board.

At its regular board meeting Aug. 30, the board revised the division’s operating budget, since the funding for the pay rise will be covered by the provincial government and not the local school division.

Superintendent John Bailey said the funding would bring in about $500,000 to the school board coffers.

“We’re passing on the extra funds to the schools to use and they need it,” said Checkel.

“They will have a little more funding than they would have had before this announcement.”

Clearview welcomed an announcement in July by Education Minister David Hancock that the provincial government promises to provide funding to cover a pay raise of 2.92 per cent for teachers approved last spring.

This statement came just days after Clearview school board adopted a budget of forecasting a deficit of $848,000.

Checkel and the board are pleased that the government has confirmed its commitment when it negotiated the teachers’ current five-year contract that covers until Aug. 31, 2012.

“They are providing funding they agreed to and they are just keeping their agreement,” said Checkel.

“Some people in education felt that with the tight funding and revenues, the provincial government would hold back funding and school divisions would have had to use their reserve funding to cover the increase.”

“They have many different formulae to calculate our revenue,” Checkel said earlier this summer, adding that in the past, funding increases have been calculated as a percentage of provincial funding per student in the division.

“If the calculation is based on that, we can use the funds for whatever we want, within reason,” said Checkel.

The minister’s announcement did appear to be giving some flexibility to allow school boards to redesignate funding.

“The increase in funding will be applied in the form of a 2.92 per cent increase to the base students and class-size initiative grants,” said Hancock.

“I want to be absolutely clear – this money is for teacher and support staff salaries, not for any other purpose.”

Trustee Patty Dittrick is also “pleased and relieved” with the government’s support as president of Alberta Public School Boards Association.

“I don’t think it is going to be a major problem,” Dittrick said in relation to possible restrictions the funding may entail.

“This is a very positive first step,” said Dittrick.

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