$1.4B budget approved for Calgary Board of Education, fall re-entry plan unknown

The Calgary Board of Education’s 2020-2021 operating budget has been approved by the Board of Trustees, following a week of deliberations.

The $1.4-billion, balanced budget will now be submitted to Alberta Education, in time to meet the May 31 deadline.

The money will go toward funding more than 128,000 students in about 250 schools, including three that are due to open next year.

The budget approval comes in the midst of a spending questions from the department of education, after an independent audit of the school board’s financial situation.

According to board chair Marilyn Dennis, the budget prioritizes students and classrooms, and is in line with the province’s new funding framework.

“We are committed to strong, vibrant, inclusive school communities where all students have the opportunity to achieve their potential,” Dennis said in a news release.

“There will be changes to some of our programs and services, but we will continue to strive for the best outcomes for our students.”

The CBE also recently announced new busing fees for the 2020-2021 year, which will see a hike in transportation costs per student.

While the budget has been passed, it’s still not known what the fall will look like, and whether students will even be in classrooms again.

The board is working with the provincial government and health officials to examine three possibilities for the fall; having students back in schools, having students back in the desks but with different restrictions and precautions, or not having students back at all and continuing with online learning that began in the spring.

“The approved 2020-21 budget assumes a normal start-up. Should changes be required due to COVID-19, the CBE will adjust as necessary,” the board said. “This approach is consistent with other metro school divisions.

“The CBE continues to work very closely with Alberta Education and other metro school jurisdictions to ensure that school start up is compliant with provincial direction. The safety of students and staff remains the CBE’s highest priority.”

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