The Superintendent of the Grande Prairie Public School Division is hopeful that 2021 will provide clarity, after 2020, a year filled with uncertainty on several levels.
Sandy McDonald says above and beyond the strain felt by boards and divisions across the province due to COVID-19, the 2020 education budget added another layer.
“The challenge last year with the education budget was Alberta Education developed a new funding framework, and anytime you change the rules for how resources are allocated, there is the potential for people to be uncertain about how those rules apply,” he says.
However, McDonald says the amount of money coming into the division from the province will always be up for debate, and that’s to be expected.
“On the topic of educational budgets, there is almost never enough money. We could increase the education budget by 10 percent each year and we’d want to see more,” he says.
“Education is all about adding value and enriching and enhancing and the more resources you have, the better opportunities you can provide for students.”
He suggests that the division is always running a very thin line because of a smaller amount of reserve funding in place going into the new framework. He suggests that anytime there is a change, there is a concern because there is no way to know the potential impacts brought on by that change.
“The ability to get specific answers in times of change causes people concern. We just don’t have those and we can’t answer questions about problems we don’t know exist yet.”
In terms of the upcoming curriculum changes, which the province suggested in August would emphasize core knowledge and civic virtues, with evidence and fact-based materials, McDonald says he still doesn’t have the specifics they will need to change to provide students.
“The ministerial order on student learning, that guiding framework that I’ve seen, and some of the other curriculum guideline documents that I’ve seen really, I think, still identify the appropriate outcomes we want our students to be able to develop.”