Education minister visits Red Deer and hears concerns

  • Feb. 27, 2013 3:37 p.m.

Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson was in Red Deer Monday as a part of his cross-province tour to meet with school boards and find out what is important in each community.

“(The school boards) don’t have much time to spend one-on-one to talk about what’s important to them and their community. Over the last three months I’ve travelled the province to meet with every school board and ask how we can help them and what’s on their minds,” said Johnson.

He said a common concern for school boards is the budget.

“When most of the provincial budget is education and health you can’t come out with a tight budget and constrain costs without impacting those two ministries.”

Johnson said local school boards are experiencing what some other communities have and that is the challenges of growth.

“Some of those growth pressures bring a lot of demand. The school boards want to make sure the province, in these fiscal times where we’re going to have to show some constraint, is not going to sacrifice the investment in infrastructure.”

He said what impressed him about the Red Deer school boards is the willingness to develop partnerships not only with each other but with others in the community to create the best programs and services possible for the kids in the community.

At present, Johnson has given a proposal to the Alberta School Board Association and the Alberta Teachers’ Association but he was unwilling to comment on the specifics.

“I won’t comment on the terms of that proposal out of respect for those two groups to give them time to digest it and talk with their members about it.”

He added he hopes to see a long-term province-wide deal to help ease the concern of fiscal restraint impacting the quality of service within Alberta’s school systems.

Johnson expects a decision to made in regards to his proposal by the end of week.