Wildrose education critic speaks out against mandatory school fees
Wildrose Education Critic Bruce McAllister said the Province should take more responsibility for funding education, Sept. 10.
“The Province needs to give school boards the money they need to operate so they don’t have hidden fees,” he said.
“It’s time for Mr. (Education Minister Jeff) Johnson to finally take a serious look at this common sense solution that will strengthen communities across the province.”
Airdrie parents are tightening their belts and preparing to pay school fees.
For some, it’s the most expensive time of the year, with new clothes, school supplies, busing and school fees, as well as the extra expenses required for activities including sports and music.
“It just seems that things are a little heavy come September,” said Ronda Moore, whose son attends George McDougall High School. “There is a whole lot of money that goes at this time of year.”
Moore said she and her husband know September will be expensive, but don’t mind paying school fees because they feel their 14-year-old is getting a good education.
“We just know that we are going to get slammed come September,” said Moore. “As long as he is getting what he needs… I haven’t balked at (the fees).”
However, Moore said she wonders how parents with multiple children afford the extra expenses.
Airdrie resident and mother of four school-aged children Mari Carr said with school fees and supplies, busing, and after-school activities, the family puts out more than $2,000 every September.
“I always tell people that September is probably my most expensive time, second only to Christmas,” said Carr, who has children in all three levels of school in Airdrie.
Carr said she receives bills for every field trip and extra activity her children take part in throughout the year, adding she would rather be billed all at once.
“I wouldn’t mind paying the school fees at the beginning of the year, but it’s the nickel-and-diming that bugs me. It is crazy how much I put out last year, even stuff they do on school grounds they charge for.”
According to McAllister, an average Alberta family pays about $100 for mandatory fees per child each year. Examples of these fees include locker, noon supervisory, compulsory, basic, instructional and non-instructional fees.
“We (the Wildrose) are against mandatory fees,” said McAllister, who lives in Chestermere. “September has become cheque-tember, it is one thing after another. I just think it is ridiculous… the mandatory fee is essentially another hidden tax.”
According to McAllister, there is no rhyme or reason to how the approximately 62 boards across the province bill students for mandatory fees. He said he hears complaints daily about the fees while dropping his daughter off at school and in his role as education critic.
McAllister said school board funding should be met head on by Johnson to ensure there are no barriers to education and to alleviate financial burdens on Alberta families.
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