Local officials are reacting to today’s Speech from the Throne.
Officials with the Red Deer Public School District are welcoming the news of Bill 1, which will be the Act to Reduce School Fees.
“As part of our District’s Equity priority, school fees and fundraising have been one of our areas of focus. It has been a regular concern that we have raised when we’ve met with our MLA’s,” said Board Chair Bev Manning. “We recognize that fees are a challenge for many and in some ways it reduces educational opportunities for students. News that the Notley government is moving forward on this issue is welcomed by the district and our families.”
Fees for programs, textbooks, student transportation, lunchroom supervision, field trips and optional courses can add up for families. Last year Red Deer Public Schools collected $2.5 million in such fees. While fees may not be eliminated, we appreciate the government is working to reduce fees for families.
“We have been making progress on this but there just has not been the funds available to address this fully. This Board introduced a Fee Waiver Program 15 years ago to assist families facing financial challenges,” said Manning. “Over the last nine years, we have waived fees totaling $736,095 for a total of 4,947 students and their families. This demonstrates the challenges of school fees.”
Stu Henry, superintendent of schools for the Red Deer Public School District said the news is welcomed.
“We understand from government that funding for this will be covered through ‘cost efficiencies’ within the department. The government has committed that this initiative will not negatively impact school boards. While appreciative of the news, we need more information to see if and what the impact will be on the department and school jurisdictions,” he said.
Meanwhile, building new schools, standing up in court for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, working with the federal government to create good oilfield service jobs, implementing a consumer bill of rights and expanding protections for victims of sexual and domestic assault are among key initiatives that will define Alberta’s next legislative session.
“Creating jobs, diversifying our economy, building pipelines and making life more affordable for families – that’s your government’s focus,” said Premier Rachel Notley.
She added that, while the economy recovers, government will continue to find ways to reduce costs and bring overall government spending down, but not at the expense of the jobs, services and supports Alberta families rely on.
“Though the world around us may be growing more uncertain, your government will remain focused. Now is not the time to let our steady hand waver. As we have from the start, we will continue to create jobs, diversify our economy and protect the health and education services families need.”