Rural Alberta schools need further supports

Per student funding needs to be reviewed: study

With the continued decline of students in rural Alberta communities, the challenges in providing a sufficient education keep growing.

Whether it is having multiple grades in one class, the lack of facilities and equipment to offer certain programs, a funding shortfall to provide other services, or trials with regards to busing, the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) believes the province must to do more to ensure equitable education for students regardless of where they live.

“The ASBA believes every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and this potential is best achieved within a strong public education system served by locally-elected school boards, whether they be metro, urban or rural,” explained ASBA president Lorrie Jess, who is also a trustee with Wolf Creek Public Schools.

The issues with rural students came out of a document produced by Alberta Education to further discussion with school divisions and other partners on determining the outline for a 2019-2022 business plan and priorities.

One of the biggest topics that needs to be addressed, according to the ASBA, is the current funding model of funding school on a per student basis.

“Alberta Education should undertake a comprehensive review of its funding framework — in consultation with school boards — to ensure dollars for public, separate and francophone school students in Alberta are distributed equitably and fairly,” Jess stated.

In response, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen noted that everyone deserves equitable access to education.

“Our Government values Alberta’s small and rural communities and recognizes the importance of equitable access to education, regardless of location,” Eggen said.

Funding is allocated to school authorities based on certain information.

“The funding allocation takes into account that rural school authorities often face unique challenges beyond their control, such as declining enrolment, long distances and the operation of small schools.”

Meanwhile, Jess added that small, rural schools are crucial to the areas they serve, and without them, there would be greater costs for transportation.

“(These) schools, strategically located in their communities, are an important component of the social infrastructure that is necessary to achieve economic diversification, spur growth in Alberta’s agriculture industry and improve the quality of life in rural Alberta,” she noted.

One way the government could help school boards is by excluding these small schools when measuring a division’s student occupancy rate.

Another challenge is busing for these small schools and the ASBA feels each division should be treated fairly and equitably in its funding.

“Funding should not be reduced for jurisdictions with declining numbers of students transported, but who have fixed transportation costs,” Jess stated.

“The provincial government should undertake a comprehensive independent review of the student transportation system to ensure that all boards are fairly and equitably funded for student transportation.”

Jess added that rural students should have access to the specialized programs in nearby schools, without being restricted to courses requiring special facilities and equipment.

Meanwhile, Harvey added the current busing model does recognize sparse rural populations and that the government is working on funding alternative learning strategies with a focus on ensuring students have no barriers in core learning.

Just Posted

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Calgary’s public school board responds to Syrian child’s suicide after bullying

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Woman in critical condition after motorcycle crash on Edmonton highway

Police say both women were thrown from the bike, and the van continued forward, hitting a Nissan Altima

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — still affected

New study suggests oilsands greenhouse gas emissions underestimated

New study is the first to use actual field measurements taken from aerial overflights, or top-down measurements

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

As in Ontario, the Alberta platform touts ‘expert advice and counsel from trusted health-care professionals’

Most Read