Rising school fees necessary to provide student services: Calgary Board of Education

WATCH: The CBE has some of the highest fees in Alberta. Tomasia DaSilva explains why the board says the fees are necessary in light of the funding it gets from the province.

The Calgary Board of Education is defending raising school fees, adding the money is necessary to run its schools.

Some parents recently told Global News some of the fees they pay are too high.

“Noon supervision fees is where it’s hurting everybody,” Calgary mother Brittany Moore said.

“I understand where they’re coming from — I mean, teachers got to eat too — but if it was less that would be a whole lot better because we’re not doing so hot at my house.”

The CBE hiked noon supervision fees by up to 3.9 per cent and transportation fees by 4.5 per cent in 2018-19, due to what board officials described as the increased costs of providing those services.

Fee frustration remains for some Alberta parents, despite government reducing certain school fees

The board does get provincial funding for each student, but officials said that funding has not kept pace with school system growth or inflation.

So while the CBE may have some of the highest school fees in Alberta, it also has the highest number of students: 124,000 this school year.

“The CBE has made the choice to allocate those funds towards student learning,” board chair Trina Hurdman said, “rather than to programs such as noon hour supervision.”

Back in 2017, Alberta Education reviewed the board’s operations. It found a high level of student program support but also found high leasing costs, high administrative expenses and transportation challenges.

The province did provide the board with an additional $18 million for 2018-19, but that was to offset the instructional materials, supplies and transportation fees the NDP eliminated in 2017.

Alberta government phasing out school fees

The Alberta Teachers’ Association told Global News it believes that fees should not produce a barrier for accessing public education.

While teachers support the efforts of government to prohibit school boards from using fees to fund curricular programs, the ATA says it also recognizes that fees have been used to bridge gaps that exist in current funding.

“Public education needs to be adequately funded by government,” ATA president Greg Jeffery said. “So that school fees and fundraising are not necessary.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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