School fee changes without full details

Wolf Creek Public Schools officials are unsure how the no school fees announced will affect overall operations.

Officials at Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) were not taken off guard, but were left awaiting further details following the provincial government committing to cutting student fees.

During the throne speech on March 2, the government announced it plans to push ahead with a promise to make education more affordable. In that campaign, the NDP stated they would cut or eliminate fees for basic services like bussing and school supplies.

“When it comes to the fee for instructional supplies and materials, last year that worked out to be around $470,000 for WCPS, so it will be interesting to find out if the announcement will cover that whole amount or a pro-rated number,” explained WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell.

The bill, which is set to be introduced during the first day of the legislative session on March 10, would reduce the fees for instructional materials including textbooks and paper by at least 25 per cent and eliminate bus fees for students attending their designated school that is more than 2.4 kilometres from home.

The School Act will also be amended to reflect the new bill, once it has been proclaimed.

Like all school divisions, WCPS knew an announcement of this nature would be coming sometime during the current government’s term in office and welcome the news for parents while supporting the financial challenges faced by school divisions in maintaining programming.

“The ability to reduce fees for parents while maintaining our programming is great news and a positive step,” said Lovell.

He added the division, like everyone else, will be eagerly awaiting the release of the details that are slated to come out during the provincial government’s 2017 budget announcement on March 16.

“At this point, we are awaiting many details regarding both the new funding and regulations designed to clearly outline what our school district can charge parents a fee on in relation to educational programming,” Lovell said.