By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
With the recent provincial budget released in October, schools across the province are feeling a pinch that could get worse, according to Clearview Public Schools Trustee Ken Checkel, who paid a visit to the County of Paintearth Nov. 20th council meeting.
While the recent budget does not have an immediate effect on Clearview Public Schools, thanks to reserves, future cuts to the division could be coming, depending on the next budget tabled in the Alberta Legislature.
The budget tabled on Oct. 24th did see Clearview Public Schools lose around $400,000 out of their total $25 million budget.
“It hurts, but it’s not that big a deal,” said Checkel.
“We do have reserves, and we decided as a board to use those reserves, so no cuts will be visible this year.”
Of particular concern to Checkel is the government review of the “whole funding framework” from Grades K to 12.
“We don’t know where it’s going to end up, just that it’s going on,” said Checkel.
“Our main concern is, will the province continue to support small rural schools?”
One school in the County particularly at risk is the K to nine school in Brownfield.
One grant that Clearview Public Schools receives is the $1 million Small Schools by Necessity Grant, which funds around 50 per cent of Brownfield’s $450,000 annual operational costs.
That grant money also supports around 50 per cent of Byemoor School, and 10 per cent of Castor and Coronation schools.
“We’re getting some indicators that maybe the answer is no,” said Checkel, in response to his own question.
“If the government cuts back, it will have a pretty immediate impact.”
Checkel and his trustee colleagues have been attending various municipal, parent, and school councils in the region to let people know their concerns.
“Our message is ‘we’re not complaining about what the province is doing, but at the same time we want to tell people if they like it the way it is, they need to get involved,” said Checkel.
“Now is the time to get involved in the process. Talk to your local MLAs.”