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Government of Alberta reduces K-12 education funding

Saturday, 28 March 2020. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

The Government of Alberta announced today that K-12 education funding is being temporarily reduced while in-person classes remain cancelled, stating in a press release that any resulting savings would be reallocated to the province's COVID-19 response.

The release says funding for teachers and most other aspects of the K-12 system is being maintained, but funding for transportation and substitute teachers and educational assistants will be reduced, stating this will not negatively impact the education continuity plan.

Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers' Association, says in a subsequent news release that the government has missed an opportunity to show leadership in a crisis.

"Teachers and educational assistants work closely together to facilitate learning. Their work was being utilized to support students in need of accommodations and those with inadequate access to technology," he said.

"We continue to have concerns about how students with special needs will be supported through this time – many parents are struggling and need as much help as possible."

The ATA estimates about 6,000 substitute teachers and up to 20,000 support staff will be affected by the cut.

"We were pushing hard to ensure substitute teachers, many of whom work nearly full time, were also supported," said Mr. Schilling. "Teachers also stand in solidarity with the support staff affected by this disappointing decision."

"I appreciate we are in extraordinary times, but laying off tens of thousands of workers at this time is the wrong direction," he added.

Those impacted by the layoffs will qualify for the federal government's enhanced employment insurance program and other support programs for Canadian workers.

"COVID-19 has changed both how we provide student learning and the operational needs of the education system," said Minister of Education Adirana LaGrange in her statement.

"I want to stress that this is a temporary arrangement as schools focus on at-home learning. I have full confidence the system will continue to be equipped to succesfully deliver our education continuity plan."

Livingstone Range School Division has not yet released any comments regarding the cuts. Please watch for followup in this week's paper.

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