Local school boards pleased with province’s plan to fund new students

News of the provincial government’s plan to fully fund new students entering grade school classrooms this fall is welcome news for Red Deer’s two largest school districts.

Bev Manning, board chair for Red Deer Public Schools says it’s something they were hoping for and are thankful for.

“I’ve felt that the government would certainly understand the complications of not funding any new student enrolment growth,” says Manning. “In Red Deer, we grow by about 100-150 students every year and we’re certainly expecting that again next year. That would have left us with over a million dollar shortfall. That would have been a huge challenge for us.”

Manning says new student funding is a big piece of the puzzle to their annual budget.

“As we work together to sort of piece all those pieces of information together, it should be very helpful to us.”

Anne Marie Watson, board chair for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools says it’s good to hear the news but would still like to see it in writing.

“As a growing division, that was a concern that we had that we were worried that might not be funded,” says Watson. “Last year we had 2.2 per cent growth which is over 200 students and we would expect about the same this year. But we won’t know our final numbers until the end of September.”

While the new student funding does create more certainty in terms of budgeting, Watson looks forward to further clarity when the provincial budget comes out in the fall.

“There’s still uncertainty whether the Classroom Improvement Fund will continue,” says Watson. “That’s something the previous government instituted that lasted two years and that was over a million dollars funding. Another one is the School Nutrition program, the fate of that is of concern to us.”