City Hall (Kara Crest, MyGrandePrairieNow.com staff)
City of Grande Prairie councillors won’t be advocating on behalf of local school boards when it comes to more funds ahead of September.
The motion put forward by Councillor Jackie Clayton would have seen the Mayor write a letter to the province on behalf of the boards advocating for extra cash to help school boards develop a plan that allows children to safely go back to school in person with regular traditional scheduling this September.
Mayor Bill Given says the voting down of the motion was not because city council disagrees with the idea, but whether or not school funding is a municipal concern.
“A difference of opinion, or an inability to build consensus, around whether or not we wanted to address the issue with providing school districts appropriate funding to ensure they can do that,” he explains.
In June, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the province is targeting “near normal” operations with some health measures in place, however, a final decision will be made by August 1st. Given says the safety of students is the number one priority of council, as well as the province and school boards.
“We want to do whatever we can to speak on behalf of the community and ensure schools are open, and when they re-open, it’s safe for students, staff, and the broader community. But, I think there is a difference of opinion about whether or not we should be speaking up on behalf of the school districts and saying if they need additional resources to do that, please, province, make sure they have those resources.”
Additional health and safety measures would also include hand washing and sanitizing, frequent cleaning of schools and buses, no sick students allowed at school, and physical distancing when possible. In-school classes have been cancelled since the middle of March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.