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Budget doesn't support education in Alberta: education leaders

A student in uniform distracted holding using and watching a mobile phone during a lesson at high school. Books, tablets and pencil cases all visible on the desk and work space. (CREDIT: iStock Photo)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Leaders in education from across Alberta are responding to the 2020 Alberta budget that was tabled on Thursday.

While the budget promised increases to all K-12 school jurisdictions, there is something between the lines to be aware of.

Funding for school jurisdiction operations is actually going down this year compared to earlier, but the province is saying this does not amount to a cut because school boards can make up the difference in their own reserves.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling saying Thursday afternoon up to 30,000 students will have entered Alberta schools with no additional funds to support them by next fall.

RELATED: Public sector workers provide first reaction of 2020 budget

Schilling goes on to say “This budget further reduces government funding to school boards and downloads more costs onto parents. With the last budget, we had to FOIP to truly understand the totality of the cuts. I’m worried that the most troublesome details of this budget are again being obscured.”

NDP MLA for Edmonton-Glenora and former member of the Edmonton Public School Board Sarah Hoffman echoed Schilling’s concerns.

Hoffman says in a Twitter video that she is disappointed with details of the budget.

Post-secondary students also chiming in on Thursday about their displeasure with the budget.

The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) who represents over 100,000 undergraduate students from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, and MacEwan University sending out a release of their own.

“CAUS has been asking the Government to maintain funding levels for post-secondary institutions. The decision to continue cutting these grants will lower the quality of education, decrease affordability, and limit accessibility of much-needed student support programs.”

The release goes on to say that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for students to be able to move on after school because of the significant amount of debt they are faced with.

READ MORE: Some highlights from Alberta’s new budget

Debt isn’t the only thing the organization raised concerns with. It also touched on concerns surrounding funding for mental health services.

“Without specifying the amount of funding dedicated to campuses, institutions will be unable to maintain the current level of mental health services across Alberta’s campuses. Therefore, the lack of specificity with the funding will immediately lead to weakened mental health outcomes and uncertainty for students as well as those who administer and run these essential programs.”

That’s not all for reaction either.

Support Our Students (SOS), a foundation that advocates for accessible education in our province, join the aforementioned eduction advocates in voicing concerns.

“107 Million dollars every year for the next three years will not meet the growing needs for Alberta students, when two metro boards currently have over 2 billion dollars in deferred maintenance at this very moment.”