Alberta education minister defends CBE budget, says fee increase ‘normal’

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen said Thursday he believes the Calgary Board of Education “really made the right choices” when it came to setting the 2018-2019 school budget.

The CBE approved its $1.4-billion budget for the upcoming school year on Tuesday, but many parents have been critical of the board proposing fee increases, in light of the province’s commitment to cut fees by 25 per cent.

The $1.4-billion budget calls for annual bus fees to rise by $15 and noon supervisions fees are set to climb by $11 in some schools.

Eggen said Thursday the fee increases are separate from Alberta Education’s act to reduce school fees, and if they are being raised, it is due to “inflation and circumstance.”

“The Calgary Board of Education put forward what I think is a quite solid budget this year. They worked very hard to not just retain positions but hire more people in the classroom and so they really made the right choices in those regards,” Eggen said.

Eggen added that any proposed increase over five per cent must be approved by Alberta Education. 

“You do see school fees increasing from time to time, that’s normal, but the fees that we eliminated — which is the instructional supplies and materials and students riding the bus to their designated school over 2.5 kilometres — we backstopped that money this year. It’s almost $60 million that we put in there to make sure we backstopped that for school boards.”

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