Lethbridge School Locale Scrambling
Local school districts must find ways to work with less after the province announced this weekend a temporary cut in funding for K-12 education to reflect the cost of home learning by students during COVID-19.
The UCP government said a few weeks ago that Alberta school authorities would receive the full allocation of funds for this year, but this is no longer the case.
Lethbridge School Division has developed its home learning model with educational assistants (EA) to provide this service to students. The local public Department says it is now concerned about how this government decision will change plans that municipal schools had already put in place.
“Education plans at all three levels were developed on the assumption that schools would have a full staff to meet the needs of students at all levels,” says Dr Cheryl Gilmore, Superintendent of schools for Lethbridge School Division. “Due to Saturday’s government announcement, some of these plans may need to be changed.”
At this stage, the Lethbridge School division does not have specific figures on how many employees will be assigned, as the department is currently seeking clarification from the government.
The Holy Spirit Catholic Pastoral unit is in the same boat. Officials say they are working to establish an approach that ensures students remain well served during this change.
In a press release, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says funding will be restored when personal lessons are resumed.
“COVID-19 has changed both the way we learn students and the operational needs of the education system. I want to point out that this is a temporary deal, as schools are focusing on home learning. I am confident that the system will continue to be ready for the successful implementation of our education continuity plan,” says LaGrange.
The provincial government states in this statement that these funding adjustments will not adversely affect Alberta’s education continuity plan. School authorities receive the funds they need to continue to provide their students with learning opportunities at home and ensure they are not late.
All savings from these adjustments, depending on the province, will be reallocated to support Alberta’S COVID-19 response.
The decision is made by bus drivers, educators and alternate instructors.
The opposition NDP called the move “pure cruelty” and said there were more than 16,000 educational assistants to help students with complex needs across Alberta.