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Education Minister orders audit of CBE finances; ATA refutes claims of mismanagement

Last Updated Nov 20, 2019 at 12:35 pm MDT

Alberta premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education after being is sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta’s education minister is ordering an independent financial audit of the Calgary Board of Education.

Adriana LaGrange says there’s a clear pattern of mismanagement by the board.

“The Calgary Board of Education has a history of questionable, irresponsible decision-making when it comes to its finances. In 2010-11, the board trustees locked themselves into an expensive 20-year lease in which they are paying more than it would cost them to purchase the building. In 2018, a provincial audit of the board found that it had made a $9.1-million accounting error, allocating office space costs as instructional costs,” said LaGrange.

“The reckless misuse of taxpayer dollars by this board cannot be allowed to continue. I will be ordering an independent financial audit of the Calgary Board of Education as well as a governance review. There is a clear pattern of mismanagement by this board that must be corrected.”

The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) however, refutes LaGrange’s claims the CBE is poorly mismanaging funds.

Jason Schilling with the ATA says school boards are being told to deal with budgets short millions of dollars.

Schilling said It’s next to impossible for school boards to deal with that gap without laying people off and believes if LaGrange can do better, she can dissolve the board.

“Even though she might call on CBE to do a better job, I would call on her to make sure that schools and classrooms are not impacted by budget decisions as she said they wouldn’t be.”

Barbara Silva with the advocacy group Support our Students (SOS) said parents should contact their MLA before budget constraints get worse and kids suffer even more.

“They’re forecasting a budgetary freeze for the next three years as student population grows. If this is the impact when school boards expected this coming, imagine what’s coming down the road two or three years.”

LaGrange adds it was difficult to hear about the CBE’s decision to end the contracts of 300 temporary teachers and believes it was another example of its inability to appropriately manage its finances.

The board said the decision was made because provincial funding was reduced by $32 million.