Calgary Board of Education begins 2020-21 budget deliberations Tuesday

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) begins budget deliberations on Tuesday as members try to envision what classes will look like in September amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There are several different factors for board members to consider this year, including a new funding framework announced by Alberta Education in February.

In the budget, which is outlined in the public agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the CBE notes the framework “gives boards greater flexibility to allocate funding.” Alberta Education also adjusted or combined a number of grants and changed the student enrolment formula calculation.

This year, the CBE notes it will also be made to balance the transportation budget using only provincial funding and parent fees, saying it will mean “changes in fees, service and bell times for schools and families.”

The CBE also noted it will get $20.6 million more in funding for the 2020-21 school year than it received from Alberta Education for the year before.

However, the CBE notes that it also expects to welcome 3,000 new students, open three new schools and face increases in many of its costs.

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Because of this, the board says, “Overall funding per student is lower than previous years.

“Aligning services to the funding we receive will mean changes to how we support all students, including those with specialized learning needs.

“The 2020-21 school year will be a year marked with change, challenge and opportunity. School systems, including the CBE, will be operating in a world heavily impacted and influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CBE said.

The CBE notes that at the time the budget was written, COVID-19 restrictions weren’t in place, and it was assumed there would be “no continuing impact from the situation on the 2020-21 school year.”

“The CBE maintains modest operating reserves to address, in part, any unanticipated cost arising from COVID-19 or other unanticipated risks,” the CBE said, adding that larger costs to address health and safety directions related to COVID-19 will “necessitate discussion with Alberta Education.”

The Education Act requires that the CBE submit to Alberta Education, by May 31 of each year, a balanced budget approved by the board of trustees for the fiscal year beginning on the following Sept. 1.

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