2017 Provincial Budget
March 17, 2016 - Parkland School Division's enduring priority of resource stewardship is always top of mind when it comes to all decisions made that contribute to the Division's Ultimate Goal of Student Success and Well-being. The Government of Alberta's Budget 2017 announcement was positive news for students and staff in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County.
"Overall there is a sense of optimism when it comes to Alberta's Budget 2017," stated Board Chair Eric Cameron.
"This is a positive budget when it comes to education. We're pleased that the government has reaffirmed its commitment to providing predictable funding for enrolment growth. Even in this challenging economic climate, we're fortunate that we're experiencing growth especially in our larger urban centres."
Budget 2017 demonstrates that Education remains a top priority in the province.
Including estimated school board expenses funded by other revenue sources, Education’s consolidated operating expense is budgeted at $8.2 billion in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, a significant increase of $215 million, or 2.7 per cent, over the prior year. In addition, school capital investment reaches $1.4 billion, for a consolidated total of $9.6 billion.
Government is committed to providing stable K-12 education funding by funding the projected enrolment growth.
Reducing School Fees - Bill 1
Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees, if proclaimed, will eliminate school fees related to instructional supplies or materials and transportation for eligible students who live more than 2.4 km away from their designated school.
Instructional Material Fees
Included in this category would be fees for:
- any common fees charged to an entire student body or grade cohort
It's important to note for parents or guardians that school fees will still be assessed for field trips, events, student union, middle and high school option courses, instrument rental, special school activities or items needed for a program or class. Basic school supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, calculators etc. will still be required for parents to purchase for their students as well. School supply lists are currently under review division-wide and Parkland School Division is committed to achieving better consistency from school to school. For more information on fees included in Bill 1, please visit Alberta Education's website.
As a reference, in 2015 - 2016, Parkland School Division reported collections of $744,760 for Instructional Material Fees.
Transportation Fee Reduction
Bill 1, if passed, states if a child is enrolled in his or her designated school, and that school is greater than 2.4 kilometres away from home, families will not be charged any transportation fees. This means that for those students who live less than 2.4km and are choosing to access Transportation Services and for those students who choose to attend a school to access a program of choice, transportation fees will still apply. Parkland School Division supports the government's commitment to regional transportation services. As always, Parkland School Division's Transportation Services will need to manage the operating funding gap between the expected transportation service level and the available transportation grant funding. The Board is currently undergoing a comprehensive review of the system that will assess current levels of service including multiple pick-up and drop off locations for individual students, cross attendance transportation and agreements with area private schools.
As far as the specific impact for Parkland School Division, the government is determining the level of funding school divisions will receive in lieu of previously collected fees for those students living outside 2.4 kilometres and are attending their designated school. School boards have until March 31, 2017 to work through processes and report back to the government.
School Capital Investment
Through Budget 2017, $1.3 billion is budgeted for school capital investment. This significant investment includes $1.1 billion to continue work on more than 200 new and modernization projects currently underway. This would include the second new Kindergarten to Grade 9 school to be built in Spruce Grove's west end.
The government also committed $32.5 million in the 2017/2018 fiscal year for new school projects.
"As highlighted at our most recent Regular Board Meeting, our Board approved our submitted Three-Year Capital Plan." stated Superintendent Tim Monds.
"Priorities remain a complete preservation and modernization of Woodhaven School in Spruce Grove, a new K-9 replacement school for Stony Plain Central School, as well as a modernization of Spruce Grove Composite High School and long term planning still identifies the need for a new high school for PSD in the future. We are hopeful that Parkland School Division will be considered for funding in the near future."
For more information contact:
Associate Superintendent, Business & Finance