Education Minister David Eggen was in Red Deer this past Monday to visit with local school boards.
Eggen began touring the province about three weeks ago and as of Monday, he had met with 39 different school boards.
“It’s been intense but very productive. These are the individuals on the ground delivering education to our students and I can learn a tremendous amount from them to help to focus public money to ensure we get the best result for all kids,” he said.
Eggen added with the upcoming provincial budget later this month, the government took the pressure down for school boards in particular.
“We restored the funding that the previous government was taking away on enrolment and then also I found the money to build the schools that were on the capital budget. Reducing the anxiety but certainly with the budget coming up, I’ve let people know that we are focusing on our core services – on education and health care – but certainly everyone is looking for efficiencies.”
He added schools in the Red Deer region are experiencing tremendous growth.
“This is a real centre of growth throughout the province and certainly we want to make sure that we meet the needs of all students through both funding and capital projects as well,” said Eggen. “Everyone is looking forward to the school year but everyone is keeping a mindful eye on the budget because I need everyone to look for every efficiency that we can.”
In terms of the challenges he is hearing a diversity of needs.
“In terms of Red Deer proper, English as a second language is (more prominent) and also more special needs students at younger ages which I think is important for us to identify at a young age – if students have disabilities or so forth – to focus in on that,” said Eggen. “Everyone also needs money for transportation – that’s a big one – busing through the rural areas – some of the adjacent areas can be as big as 400 square kilometres which is like a small European country to provide busing for every day.”