The recent provincial budget in Alberta is something of an 'austerity budget'. Spending is maintained in some areas and cut in others. This reflects the fiscal reality, and we at PCE are supportive of fiscal responsibility. However, we have identified that some of the proposed funding changes have a disproportionately negative impact on independent schools, which are already underfunded relative to other types of choices that parents may make.
The government has decided to freeze the per-student grant to independent schools, while eliminating maintenance funding and a special project grant. Although there is an increase in overall funding for independent schools, this is due to an increase in overall enrollment. More students are choosing independent schools, but the per-student funding has not kept up.
Of course, there are always those who want independent school funding cut completely. They say it would save the government money to stop funding independent schools. However, cutting funding reduces choice for low-income families, who have a harder time paying tuition fees and would not have the same options that wealthy families do without some funding and support. Without independent school funding, many of these families would be forced into the public system, where it is more expensive to educate children. Those who want to pull funding from independent schools do so because of a one-size-fits-all ideology. Funding independent schools is both fiscally responsible and the right thing to do.
We encourage you to put pressure on the government to ensure that students and families have access to choice in education, regardless of their income level.