The provincial government’s own calculations show that projected CBE enrollment for 2022-23 is higher than actual enrollment for 2021-22

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As public schools face another year of stable funding in the face of an expected increase in enrollment, a newly elected trustee questions why the Calgary School Board is leasing its buildings to charter schools for just $1 a year.

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According to its budget assumptions report presented Tuesday, the CBE received $1.15 billion in operating funds for 2022-23, a zero dollar increase from the previous year’s budget.

At the same time, the provincial government’s own calculations show that CBE’s projected enrollment for 2022-23 is higher than actual enrollment for 2021-22 – with 120,959 students expected in the fall compared to 119,563 students this year.

As a result, per capita funding will drop to $8,607 per student for 2022-23, down from $8,666 the previous year and a significant drop from funding of $9,156 per student in 2019.

Brad Grundy, CBE’s chief financial officer, said that because fewer students were attending classrooms in the first year of the pandemic, administrators were able to save up to $4.6 million that can be allocated to next year’s costs.

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“The CBE has seen fewer students come this year and the year before, but the funding at the time has been maintained. . . basically funding that kept us harmless.

Still, Grundy said the stretched budget could still see class sizes increase or support staff cut, final numbers that won’t be clear until students arrive in classrooms in September, and the Principals will adjust individual school budgets as needed.

But administrator Susan Vukadinovic questioned why the CBE couldn’t find other sources of revenue and seemed stuck on a $1 annual rental rate for charter schools using their buildings.

While charter school advocates claim they are also public schools, the parent-run system is often criticized for limited access and long waiting lists. The UCP government has increased its support for charters, providing up to $47 million in this year’s budget for expansion.

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“I’m shocked that public school families are supposed to rent taxpayer-funded public school buildings from the government-run charter administration system for just $1 a year,” Vukadinovic said.

“In the private sector, a board of trustees would have been allowed to sell these old, expensive-to-maintain buildings to build new buildings where families actually live, where families actually want to send their children to school.”

Dany Breton, CBE facilities superintendent, said it can be difficult to populate inner-city schools where fewer young families live. And parents are demanding schools where they live, increasingly on the outskirts of the city.

In addition, Breton added, many of the older school buildings are still used by the CBE for storage, administrative offices or even the CBE Welcome Center in Kingsland used to support newly arrived immigrant and refugee students.

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But Vukadinovic argued that while neighborhoods such as Cougar Ridge, Springbank Hill, Applewood and Legacy have been waiting years for new schools, “the CBE is required to act as landlord for the charter school system operated by Province”.

Breton said that while the $1-a-year leases are in fact part of a provincially mandated requirement, communities like Evanston have waited nine years to finally receive funding for a middle school in the plan. fixed assets this year.

“At the same time as the Minister approved funding for the Evanston school, which would have been on the plan for nine years, we have dedicated time and effort to support charter schools at CBE facilities – which we were invited to rent”, he mentioned.

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Alberta Education argued that this year’s CBE funding is fair and that actual CBE enrollment for 2021-22 was lower than expected.

“In the 2022 budget, bridge funding has been increased to reduce the impact of declining enrollment and to ensure the board does not receive less funding,” said Katherine Stavropoulos, press secretary to the Minister of Education. Education Adriana LaGrange.

“It is also important to note that CBE reported $38.8 million in operating reserves and $41.8 million in capital reserves at the end of the 2020-21 school year. These reserves mean that they have additional funds to cover the additional costs needed.

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