EIPS among many school boards facing funding challenges

Elk Island Public School (EIPS) speaks out about lack of stable, predictable and adequate funding for education.

In a press release issued on Sunday, April 7, EIPS stated that while economic prosperity, essential social supports and a solid foundation for growth and diversification has been on people’s minds recently, without a solid investment in education, achieving those goals will become more challenging.

EIPS delivers high quality education for students in the division, by aligning available funding and setting educational priorities. This process becomes challenging with the long-standing lack of stable, predictable, adequate and flexible funding allocated for education.

“An investment in education is an investment in the future prosperity of Alberta,” said EIPS board chair Trina Boymook. “A diverse, strong and skilled workforce is only possible when students have access to the resources they need to succeed.”

Alberta Education has funded for an increase in student enrolment in the last few years, but it is difficult for school boards to create long term strategic plans when some funding streams vary each year, or are discontinued.

For example, the per student base grant has received just one small increase in seven years and that has left school boards struggling to keep up with inflationary pressure and increased expectations from Alberta Education, noted EIPS.

Also, funding for student transportation has not kept pace with costs and money designated for maintaining infrastructure is actually tied to student numbers, rather than building condition.

However, lack of funding is not the only challenge for school boards when allocating resources. Due to specialized grants provided by Alberta Education changing from year to year, that often means that strong programs cannot continue or school boards need to put the funding into one area, when another area may need it more.

“Although targeted funding may seem like a sound principle, it often hinders the ability of school boards to be able to meet the unique needs of students within their local communities,” added Boymook. “Very rarely does a blanket solution work for all parts of the province. School boards need to be nimble in terms of designating funding to the meet the unique educational needs of students in a given area.”

With the issues EIPS and other school boards currently face, EIPS supports the call by the Alberta School Boards Association for an entire funding formula review to be done, so the needs of the education system can be better met.

“Stable, predictable, adequate and flexible funding is essential. We’re committed to working with Alberta Education and elected officials to find a long-term, sustainable solution that will serve Alberta’s students—and all Albertans—for generations to come.”

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