Prairie Land Regional School Division (PLRD) is facing the school year head on with some fresh funding as the government reinstates the fuel contingency grant.
“It is going to generate about $250,000 into our transportation budget which is what we were projecting as a deficit this year,” said PLRD board chair Duane Roy. “It was quite appreciated. What it does is the government is going to pay for fuel in excess of 60 cents a litre. That is a big bonus for all divisions around the province because we did extensive lobbying in the spring.”
The government also came through in the spring to help the school division through a one time grant to be allocated over two years. This will give the division $248,000 for the 2011-2012 school year and $495,000 for the 2012-2013 school year.
The division allocated the funding to retain two bus routes at a cost of $26,000 and the remainder is allocated to support instruction.
Minister of Alberta Education Dave Hancock sent a letter to residents of Delia in the spring regarding the new one-time funding.
“I anticipate that this will allow Prairie Land a reprieve and afford it the capacity to make adjustments that will have the least possible impact on students,” states the letter.
He goes on to say the Stabilization Grant Program, introduced in 2004-2005 was being phased out.
“It has been six years since the framework was introduced, so boards that received Stabilization Funding have had enough time to make the necessary changes to their operational budgets.”
He also says the formula may not work for all schools.
“I recognize that we may need to review the funding model for small rural boards in the future. We intend to have discussions on the new phase of education system transformation this fall, including what transformation may look like in rural Alberta.
Roy said the Stabilization program is still relevant to rural schools.
“The Stabilization Grant has been put back into our system. It is going to buy us some time. The whole funding formula is under review,” said Roy. "It is identifying whether that grant still serves a purpose for the rural, which it definitely does.”
Hancock’s letter also reaffirms the government’s commitment to education.
“Albertans expect their children to receive a quality education–one delivered in a collaborative manner that helps children reach their full potential. Alberta’s economy, our people and how we do business are all in a period of change. Our children are entitled to an education that prepares them to be global citizens who participate in a global economy."
Delia resident Cliff Hutton questions what being prepared for a global economy means.
“Is Hancock saying that our provincial government is laying down and rolling over for a global government to take us over?” asks Hutton. “For those that are big fans of centralization and collectivism, the above statement will not seem strange at all, but if you are an individual that sees value in your local government still being in charge of local things you may be concerned.”