Local trustees seeking stable education funding
Local school trustees are hoping the public will put children’s education first when voting in this spring’s provincial election. Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees recently released an advocacy package, to be used as a framework for media and constituents when questioning candidates on their education platforms. The goal of the RVS trustees and their Advocating for Public Education document this election boils down to six important words, said Sylvia Eggerer, Ward 3 trustee.
“Secure, predictable, and sustainable capital funding,” said Eggerer.
“We don’t want to always have to go on bended knees to have our needs satisfied.”
Eggerer said the board’s position is that the provincial government needs to focus on eradicating Alberta’s “school infrastructure deficient,” with new facilities and by upgrading old buildings, and that Alberta Education needs to start making accommodations for the rapidly expanding enrolment levels at public schools in growing communities such as Airdrie and Cochrane.
“In Airdrie, we are going to reach 100 per cent (capacity) in all but one of our schools,” said Eggerer.
Airdrie will add 1,000 new high school and 900 new middle school classroom spaces in 2014, said Eggerer, but the city’s schools will still be operating at maximum capacity.
The solution is a complex one, Eggerer said, as a secure, guaranteed block of funding from the province is a good start, but not enough — educational funding needs to be allocated appropriately with considerations for future growth, she said.
“We keep adding portables, it puts a lot of stress on the core space,” Eggerer said.
“But some schools have declining enrolments in the province, so those areas likely don’t need new schools, they may need refurbishing.”
Completing the 2012 municipal census (April 1 to May 21, 2012) is paramount in communicating Airdrie’s educational needs to the Province, but it also serves to show which communities in the city will likely need a school in the near future, Eggerer said.
“It’s important to understand the city’s demographics, because you can have one area that is more of a retirement area so your needs for public schooling there are not as great,” Eggerer said.
After the primary goal to secure provincial funding is met, the RVS board of trustees would also like to see Alberta Education review Alberta’s education funding framework, build awareness and value for public education in the province, fund regional child and family supports, give parents the choice for full-day kindergarten, and establish fixed boundaries for all jurisdictions in Alberta. And while these ideas and solutions seem abundant and complex, the goal of the RVS Board remains a simple one, Eggerer said.
“We just really need to have enough schools and space for our children,” she said.