Plan to slash school fees won't force teachers to cut corners in classrooms, education minister promises

1 / 3
Education Minister David Eggen assigned to find ways to tackle racism

David Eggen promises that the NDP government's plan to reduce school fees won't hurt the quality of instruction in Alberta classrooms.

The province announced Thursday that public schools will no longer be allowed to charge for instructional supplies like textbooks or for bussing to a child's designated school. 

The education minister met with students and parents at Ranchlands School in Calgary on Friday.

"A Calgary family with three children taking their bus to their designated public school would be in line to save up to about $1,400," he said.

If Bill 1 is passed, Alberta parents will save roughly $54 million, the government says. But exactly where the money is coming from is not clear.

"We have been looking for efficiencies across the Government of Alberta and in the ministry of education specifically," Eggen said. "So there will be no additional budgetary addition."

Eggen promises the cuts will be fully funded by the province and that classrooms won't be impacted.

Kristin Kunze's two boys take the bus to St. Luke's school.

"I mean every little bit helps and it's a step in the right direction," she said. "And it's a really good opening for the conversation to have with parents and the school boards and with the government to realize this is a concern for us and it's really important."

Carolyn Blasetti from the advocacy group Support our Students, which has been calling for cuts to school fees, says she is pleased but more action is needed.

"We are going to have to hold the government to account on that and make sure that the money isn't coming out of classrooms," she said. 

"It's a start and we're going to celebrate it today. But we will be having further conversations about how we can get additional fees down."

The province hopes to have the new reduced fee structure in place this fall.

- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Finding out daughter fatally drugged, burned by mother 'the saddest day of my life,' father tells court

- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | 'Dope house burners' have Calgary residents on high alert after arson, graffiti