Alberta budget 2021: Province will 'not penalize' school boards amid COVID-19 enrolment drop

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Alberta’s K-12 education funding will remain relatively consistent next school year despite fears lower enrolments due to COVID-19 would hurt school boards.

Operating expenses are forecast to be around $8.2 billion for those grades in the 2021-2022 budget. Last year, the government earmarked $8.3 billion but used just under $8.2 billion — other expenses also differed from estimates because of the pandemic.

The province changed the way it calculates school boards’ funding in September to a rolling three-year enrolment count instead of by a single year, but Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said funding won’t drop despite pandemic-related declines.

“This school year we did not penalize school boards for the reduced enrolment they experienced during COVID-19, nor will we in the upcoming school year,” she said in a news release. “I am proud to uphold our commitment to maintain education funding, especially with the fiscal challenges the province is facing.”

The province plans to build or renovate 14 additional schools within the next three years with $228 million but didn’t provide details.

It also plans to spend $139 million on modular classrooms by the end of 2024, including $89 million in 2021-22.

— More to come

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