The Calgary Board of Education says the Alberta government's budget will have a significant impact on students as officials struggle to find ways to teach more children with less money.
The board says the province is funding enrolment growth at $29 million — leaving base funding per student unchanged — but it's also eliminating three grants totalling $85 million and only partially replacing these cuts with a one-time transition grant of $24 million.
Board chair Marilyn Dennis says the resulting $32-million reduction comes in spite of enrolment increasing by nearly 2,400 students — the equivalent of four large elementary schools.
"We anticipated flat funding. So we anticipated that the amount of money that we received last year to serve our students would be the same amount of funding that we would have received this year to serve an increasing number of students," she said.
"So yes, we were very surprised. We anticipated flat funding."
Dennis says the cuts are harder to adjust to since they are coming in the middle of the school year.
The board said in a release that it will now need to reduce spending by at least $48 million to balance its budget by the end of the school year.
"These unexpected changes will be disruptive to our students, their families and our staff," the board said.
"All options are being explored, including larger class sizes, service cuts, staff layoffs, use of reserves and fee increases."