Funding supports under Budget 2015
Alberta Education take responsibility for supporting students and teachers seriously, but are also committed to funding education services in a fiscally prudent manner.
In 2015/2016, Education’s total budget, including capital, reaches $7.9 billion—a $285 million increase. This includes a $125 million increase in operating expenses and a $160 million increase in school capital investment. We are spending about $40 million each day Alberta students are in school.
We are providing $6.9 billion in total operational support to the system. As mentioned, that is a $125 million, or 1.9 per cent, increase from last year.
Funding for school capital will reach $1 billion for the construction of new schools, modernization of existing schools, modular classrooms, and capital maintenance and renewal funding.
Honouring Teacher Framework Agreement
After parents, teachers are the single most important contributor to student success. To ensure the long-term success of students, this budget is maintaining funding for classroom teachers.
The increase in funding to school jurisdictions will be used to honour the final year of the four-year teacher agreement, which includes a two per cent increase in teacher compensation costs and a one per cent lump sum payment to teachers in November 2015.
School boards have been directed that there will be no reductions in classroom teaching positions unless a board experiences declining enrolment.
Teaching costs comprise almost 60 per cent of a board’s overall budget.
Contribution to Government Fiscal Challenge
In light of the current economic situation, tough choices will need to be made—by school boards and government—as we move to a more sustainable model.
School boards will be required to find efficiencies and productivity improvements that will reduce their non-teaching costs by three per cent—these non-teaching costs comprise 40 per cent of a board’s overall budget.
The Department of Education is reducing its administration budget by nine percent, or $15 million. To lessen the impact of the budget constraint on the classrooms, $10 million of those savings will be re-allocated to inclusive education and student transportation grants. This means that these two areas will only be reduced by 1.9 per cent and 1.35 per cent, respectively, in 2015/2016. As a result, the overall reduction on non-classroom teaching budgets for school boards will only be 2.7 per cent.
School boards have the flexibility to determine the best way to achieve the savings necessary. With minister’s approval, school boards will be able to access their operational reserves in the upcoming budget while they develop and implement their budget cost savings. At the end of the 2014/2015 school year, school boards reported a total of $461 million in accumulated surplus from operations.
School Facility Funding - $1 billion
Total school facility funding reaches $1 billion to fund the construction of new schools, modernizations of existing schools, modular classrooms and Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) programs. This $1 billion in funding includes:
- $749 million to support the government’s commitment to build 107 new schools and 90 modernizations;
- $90 million to support the annual modular classroom program and the completion of other expansion and renewal projects; and
- $180 for IMR funding, and increase of $60 million or 50 per cent over the previous year.
Total capital investment will be approximately $5 billion over the next five fiscal years, which includes $909 million for capital maintenance and renewal.
Maintenance of Schools - $461 million
The health and safety of Alberta’s students and staff in their learning environments remains a government priority.
We will invest $461 million for the plant operations and maintenance grant to support the day-to-day upkeep of school facilities.
Inclusive Education Grants - $394 million
An inclusive education system is one that takes responsibility for all students and meets their diverse needs.
Budget 2015 provides $394 million for Inclusive Education. This funding will help ensure school boards have the flexibility to support the unique needs of every school, classroom, and student.
Small Class Size Initiative - $270 million
Government continues to honour its commitment to the Small Class Size Initiative. School boards will receive a two per cent grant rate increase in class size funding.
Total support reaches $270 million, an increase of $5.3 million, to cover the teacher salary increase. Local boards determine their own class sizes and decide where government funding is best directed.
Class size is one factor of many that affects student outcomes and overall success. Teacher effectiveness is also an important factor – which is why we have taken steps to maintain classroom teaching positions.
Teachers’ Pension Plan - $399 million
Alberta students will benefit from teachers who continue to receive some of the highest compensation levels in the country and a generous pension plan.
Government will contribute $399 million to the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund for current services incurred. Alberta Treasury Board and Finance will make an additional contribution of $465 million for the unfunded liabilities for pre-1992 services. Total government contributions to the teachers’ retirement fund will reach $864 million for 2015/2016.
Transportation - $284 million
Alberta continues to support a safe transportation system for nearly 300,000 K-12 students across Alberta.
Funding for transportation will be $284 million for this budget year. We also continue to encourage school boards to take an innovative approach to transportation planning and consider how they can deliver these services most effectively.
Private Schools and Early Childhood Services (ECS) Operators - $226 million
Choice is an important part of Alberta’s education system. Private schools and private early childhood services operators provide yet another option for Alberta parents.
We are providing $226 million to private schools and private Early Childhood Services (ECS) operators. About three per cent of the ministry’s total operating budget is directed to support the operations of accredited funded private schools and private ECS operators in the province. This is an important investment in the future of over 30,000 children who attend private programs.