In 2011, The Calgary Board of Education enlisted Stormy Lake consulting to undertake a research project on parents and staff views on fees. People arriving at the discussion sessions came with a few core issues:
I do not understand or think it’s fair that some people and not others must pay for noon time supervision (outside of financial reasons).
Frustrated about inconsistency of school fees.
Threats of collection inappropriate especially when fees paid.
The extraordinary increase in fees last September (2011).
The large burden of fees in September. Some saying September is more expensive than Christmas.
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. Result, noon supervision fees have increased year over year.
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. Result, the debate at May 6th 2014 meeting to trustees, support this fee increase or we’ll have to take it out of instructional budget.
It’s no wonder that only 27% of parents in a recent survey reveal that they are confident their views are taken into account when the CBE makes decisions. If the CBE walks the walk and listen to parents they may be able to turn that perception around. In fact, it looks as though they did listen when it comes to report cards, adding teacher comments back into the report card. We will continue to look for evidence of this.