CALGARY — Calgary’s two largest school boards are working on plans for how to use the millions of dollars each are allocated as part of the federal government’s funding to boost safety in schools.
The Alberta Government announced Wednesday most of the province’s $262 million share will be handed to local school jurisdictions to help improve safety measures.
About $250 million from Ottawa will be given to local school authorities on a per-student basis. The remaining $12 million will be allocated to helping school boards meet the demand for online learning options.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the decision on Wednesday.
“We have not hesitated to support our school authorities to ensure a safe return for our students,” LaGrange said. “The safety and well being of our staff and our students has been and continues to be my number one priority.”
The Calgary Board of Education’s share is just over $44.4 million, while the Calgary Catholic School District will receive about $20.5 million.
“This funding may assist in paying for the increased staffing levels that the CBE was already putting in place to support both in-class learning as well as our HUB model for distance learning,” reads a statement from the CBE.
“We look forward to reviewing the details of this announcement and sharing exactly how we plan to allocate these funds in the best interests of students.”
Calgary Catholic, meanwhile, says it is still working on prioritizing exactly how the money will be spent.
“Our district plans to invest these funds into our classrooms (both in person and online), teachers, support and caretaking staff,” a spokesperson for CCSD said.
The federal money must be used for COVID-related costs, including staffing, adapting learning spaces, PPE and cleaning, supports for special needs students, online learning and teacher training.
Each and every school district is getting money at the same rate per-student, including private and charter schools.
“The $262 million that the federal government has given was predicated on numbers from every single school division, including privates and charters,” LaGrange said.
“It’s important that schools have this flexibility with their school boards in order to address their specific needs,” Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said, encouraging boards to consult local teachers and principals. “Now we need school boards to act on those requests from schools.”
The ATA would like to see reduced class sizes, more educational assistants and custodial staff, plus supports for substitute teachers. A recent poll by the association found that 64 per cent of Albertans feel that reducing class sizes should be a priority.
The first part of the money will be distributed this month, with the remaining amounts sent in early 2021.