On Tuesday May 6th at 3pm your public school trustees will be asking questions of administration and debating a potential widespread fee increase for 2014-15 school year. Some fees jump over 50%, most others at a higher rate than inflation. Busing fees are amongst the highest in the province, and Noon Supervision fees are the highest in Alberta. Some jurisdictions in Alberta are not increasing fees this school year. The agenda is here item 7.1 2014-15 Operating and Capital Budgets. Just beyond the agenda is pages of financial numbers to have a look at. A few items in the news media have breakdowns and comparisons (here), (here), (here) and (here).
You can contact your Trustee to ask a question or raise a concern (you can find contact information here). You can register to speak at the meeting before noon on meeting day (details here). It is at the May 6th meeting that the proposal may be changed prior to the May 20th vote, so it is important to share your concerns at or prior to this meeting. You can watch via livestream is you can no make the meeting at: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/Trustees/board_meetings.asp.
In 2011, The CBE enlisted Stormy Lake consulting to undertake a research project on parents and staff views on fees. Some of the wisdom from the report as follows:
Both parents and administrative staff agree that the waiver standard is too low, and should be adjusted to today’s standard of living. The result of this is no changes to the waiver level.
Most parents appear to accept that fees are part of the education system. However, the most opposed fees are for noon supervision.
Parents are sensitive to perceived threats. “Support this or we have to take it out of the instructional budget” is taken as a threat to the quality of the child’s education.
Fees are more than fees. Fees are seen to be more than just the set fees, they are all the costs “mandated” by the classroom.
In Setting fees: Synthesizing the input from parents through this consultation would result in the following: Only the costs associated with the service should be charged to users.
Separate reasons for transportation into educational necessity and personal choice. Only charge fees for personal choice transportation.
Separate transportation fees from noon supervision fees. Examine the true cost of noon supervision and ensure the fees match the cost.
Every child who stays for lunch pays for noon supervision and set guidelines for noon supervision ratios at schools.
Get active, get engaged and get involved to help our public education system better for parents and students.