CALGARY - Today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley was joined by parents and kids in Calgary to announce the NDP's plan to support Alberta's students and stop PC cuts to our schools.
"Families should be able to trust that students will have the support they need in the classroom, but the PCs are cutting funding for our schools and increasing class sizes," said Notley. "New Democrats will stop the PCs' cuts to our schools. We have a plan to reduce school fees for families and deliver a school lunch program to help students focus on learning."
Jim Prentice and the PCs are forcing Alberta's schools to absorb 12,000 new students this year alone without additional funding for teachers and textbooks. Jim Prentice's budget guarantees that cuts will continue in subsequent years as the PCs refuse to provide funding for new students.
The NDP will stop the PCs' cuts to education and ensure that our schools can meet the needs of our growing province. Our plan focuses on reducing class sizes, cutting school fees by half, and creating a school lunch program to help deliver a nutritious meal to 22,000 students in the first year.
"Our schools are at the heart of our communities. They matter to every family in our province," said Notley. "The NDP will deliver real relief for families and protect the principles of public education by focusing on the right priorities. Our plan will help all students reach their full potential."
Rachel Notley’s NDP will stop the PCs’ cuts to our schools. Our education plan focuses on reducing class sizes, cutting school fees for families by half, and introducing a school lunch program to tackle child hunger.
- We will cancel the PCs’ cuts to education funding and fund enrolment growth in our schools.
- Under the NDP plan, we will also focus on class size reduction initiatives, reduce school fees by half, and introduce a school lunch program to reduce child hunger in our schools.
- In 2013/14, there were 657,811 students in our schools, according to Alberta Education.
- PC Cuts:
- The PCs are cutting $104 million from school boards this year by refusing to fund enrolment increases. The PC budget states that “School boards will not be funded for projected enrolment growth of 1.9%” (Fiscal Plan, pg. 4).
- As a result of these cuts to education, “There is no additional funding to address projected enrolment growth of 12,000 students (1.9%) in 2015-16” (Fiscal Plan, pg. 16). That means that 12,000 new students will enter Alberta’s schools this September – without the teachers and textbooks they need.
- These cuts are also embedded in subsequent budget years, compounding the impacts each year.
- Class Sizes:
- The PC budget states that overall class-size averages are expected to increase by 1.5 students this fall (Fiscal Plan, pgs. 16-17).
- Earlier this month, data collected by the ATA revealed that class sizes across the province have ballooned over the past five years, including a dramatic 23.6 percent increase to grade 10-12 class sizes in Calgary School District and an 18 percent increase in K-3 class sizes in Lethbridge School District.
- School Fees:
- According to the Minister of Education, Alberta families paid $86.79 million dollars in school fees in 2011-12, including $53.65 million in instructional material and supplies fees and $33.14 million in transportation fees.
- Child Hunger:
- As of 2012, approximately 16.2 percent of Alberta kids (approx. 143,200 children) live in poverty, according to Campaign 2000.
- New Democrats will reverse the PCs’ cut to school boards this year, which amount to $104 million in restored funding. New Democrats will also take steps to target funding to class size reduction initiatives, and reduce the trend of increasing class sizes in Alberta’s schools.
- We will invest $45 million to reduce school fees by half, with a particular focus on banning lunch supervision fees. Reducing school fees will protect the principles of public education and ensure all students have access to opportunities regardless of their family’s income.
- New Democrats will phase-in a school lunch program that will provide lunches to children most in need, reduce child hunger, and help students focus on learning. In the first year, we will aim to provide lunches to 22,000 children with an investment of $20 million.