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Alberta Education minister rescinds decision to cap education funding

BOW VALLEY – More credits, more courses, more money.
Banff-Cochrane MLA Cam Westhead and Alberta education minister David Eggen meet with students Sofia Johnston, Tia Golovach, Zac Sunderland, and Noah Macfarlane during a tour
Alberta Education Minister David Eggen, pictured at the opening of phase one of the Banff Elementary School, has indicated he is willing to reconsider a decision to cap the number of Credit Enrolment Units (CEU) allowed per student in high school. The cap, announced last year, resulted in a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in its budget.

BOW VALLEY – More credits, more courses, more money.

Education Minister David Eggen announced last week the provincial government will be reviewing its decision to cap credit enrolment units (CEU) at 45 units per student, eliminating a $160,000 clawback the Canadian Rockies Public Schools division was on the hook for in its 2017-18 budget.

“Upon further review, I am rescinding the recovery notices issued to school boards regarding the credit-enrolment unit caps. It has become clear to me that the CEU adjustment in the Alberta Education budget has created unintended consequences and we will be reviewing this matter further,” Eggen said in an emailed statement.

Education funding for high school students in Alberta is based on the number of classes taken. Each high school level course a student takes determines how much funding the province provides based on the credit enrollment units.

The previous CEU cap was 60 before 2018-19 when the Alberta government reduced the funding cap to 45 CEU per student, resulting in what Canadian Rockies Public Schools estimated as a $277,000 direct loss to its annual operating budget.

“Where this hit us hardest was in our dual credits program, our work experience and our outdoor learning centre, which has been an entrepreneurial piece of how we maintain the kind of options that we are able to provide to our kids,” said CRPS board chair Carol Picard.

Administration said CRPS looks to additional programs such as courses offered through the Outdoor Learning Centre, or the International Students program, for additional revenue.

“With just government funding alone, we would struggle,” Picard said.

The original CEU cap decrease resulted in CRPS restructuring which students received priority in some of their high-credit courses. For example, earlier this year CRPS announced one of the ways the division was attempting to increase revenue was through the five-credit Career and Life Management (CALM) course by limiting students who were close to reaching their CEU cap and giving first priority to Grade 9s, or students with 42 credits or less.

Eggen said upon review of the CEU adjustment “it became clear” the CEU cap being lower could “harm students academic pursuits.”

“I’m very happy,” Picard said of the decision. “We particularly in CRPS and many divisions across Alberta lobbied hard and advocated strenuously that this move to cap it at 45 was a very retrogressive move.”

“Because we do encourage our kids to take as much opportunity as they can in their high school years to learn as much as they can, to sample as much as they can to figure out where their passions and skills marry up and they can only do that through taking more courses.”

In terms of dollar amount, Picard said the claw back has resulted in $160,866 returned back to CRPS.

“It is a very significant amount even on a budget of $30 million, it’s a significant amount,” Picard said. “You can look at it as one and a half teachers or three EAs in the classroom and that is just very basic round-number math, but that is what it represents to our schools and our kids.”

Jenna Dulewich

About the Author: Jenna Dulewich

Jenna Dulewich is a national and provincial award-winning multi-media journalist. Joining the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2019, she covers Stoney Nakoda, MD of Bighorn, Canmore and court.
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