LETHBRIDGE: Worried parents in the city may soon breathe a little easier with a new ration of funding on the way for Alberta education. Premier Alison Redford made good Wednesday on her campaign promise to return $107 million to education across the province. Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says the money will be delivered within days to 62 publicly-funded school boards to use as they see fit.
"It's definitely going to go into the classroom where it can benefit students the best," Holy Spirit Separate School Board Chair Sandra Dufresne told Country 95 News Thursday. "I would imagine we'll certainly look at our class sizes in the kindergarten to grade three classes, making sure that those are as small as possible. It's so important to establish good learning skills and intervention at those early years."
Government belt tightening forced the local public and separate school boards to cut more than 30 teaching and assistant positions leading into this school year. Dufresne says she's not concerned about finding teachers to fill those gaps. "We have great people here that we know of, perhaps even the people that we weren't able to bring back this fall who may still be looking," she said. "There's going to be people out there, I'm not worried at all. What's wonderful is that we're going to be able to do it so quickly."
Public School Board 51 Superintendent Barry Litun is a little more cautious about what the funding could mean, with so few details in front of them. He says he'd like to know if this is a one-time infusion, or if the added funding will become part of the base budget in future years. "If you use those funds to hire staff at this point in time, but then those funds disappear at the beginning of the next budget cycle, then you're just back where you were before," he said.
He added he'll wait until he sees a definite dollar figure before he speculates about what the new money means. "We need to have discussions with our administrators, our employee groups and our parent communities as well. That's how we'll discover how we can use the funds most prudently to provide support for the students and staff with the least amount of disruption," said Litun. Alberta Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk announced Thursday he'll release more details about this new education funding and plans for the future at a media conference Friday morning.