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Livingstone Range trustees ask province to hold off on funding changes

Livingstone Range School Board will ask the province to delay implementing a new funding framework during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trustees voted Wednesday to write Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to hold off on funding changes that will cost Livingstone Range $1-million in each of the next two years.

School board vice-chair Lacey Poytress made the motion during the Sept. 9 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building in Fort Macleod.

Poytress said the decision of more parents this year to transition their children to home school or on-line learning, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will seriously impact school division funding from the province.

“Those numbers could have a huge impact on our funding,” Poytress said.

Poytress said the government could help school jurisdictions by not implementing the new funding framework in 2020-’21.

“That would help reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our budgeting,” Poytress said.

Trustee Greg Long questioned asking the government to limit implementation of the new funding framework only for the 2020-”21 school year.

“The pandemic could go much longer than that,” Long said.

Long suggested wording the motion that the delay on the new funding framework remain in place until Alberta Health Services says the pandemic is over.

“I think that’s really important, to remember that we have no idea how long COVID will last,” Poytress said.

Poytress proposed handing the idea to the school board’s advocacy committee to work with communications co-ordinator Karly Bond.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t go past 2021 but you’re right, we don’t know how long this will impact our students,” Poytress said. “So I think that’s a great recommendation.”

Trustee Brad Toone thanked Poytress for bringing the motion forward.

“We all know that this is unprecedented and the funding framework formula was created at a time when none of us knew any of this was going to adversely affect us,” Toone said.

The new formula will be based 50 per cent on enrollment projections, 30 per cent on the present actual enrollment and 20 per cent on the previous year’s actual enrollment.

There will no longer be adjustments for actual enrollment in the fall.

Another change is targeted grants for plant operations and maintenance and administration that cannot be used elsewhere.

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