LETHBRIDGE: The local Public School District 51 has decided where a new $1.4 million government grant will go. After a school Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, they voted to give $1.2 million to individual schools to let them decide how to spend it, keeping the remaining $180,000 to cover emergency expenses from earlier in the year.
While they admit the money can make a considerable difference in some classrooms, board trustees have expressed concerns about the size and sustainability of the grant - an Alison Redford campaign promise meant to restore a sizeable cut to education throughout Alberta last spring.
"We're still grateful to get it and it will still help us out, but it's not going to take us back to where we were as far as staffing levels from last year," school board vice chair Keith Fowler told Country 95 News Wednesday. The Lethbridge public board's $1.4 million portion of $107 million pumped out to schools across the province makes up just 60 per cent of the axed government grant lost earlier in the year. The government has also yet to release details on whether or not the funding will be renewed at the end of this fiscal year, which closes March 31.
The Lethbridge public board cut about 60 teachers and educational assistant full-time equivalents for this school year, which meant larger class sizes for many students. Fowler said while the new funding can't restore that number completely, it's likely some schools will decide to do some hiring.
"We're going to leave it up to the schools to find out what's best for them," he said. "They're closest to their schools and they know their needs best. So we figure that's the quickest and easiest way to get the funding back into the buildings and helping kids." The Holy Spirit Catholic School Board will vote Wednesday night on how to distribute its $667,000 piece of the $107 million pie.