Posted on Mar 12, 2021
CALGARY FAMILIES PAY MORE EDUCATION PROPERTY TAXES UNDER UCP, GET NO NEW SCHOOLS FOR EITHER MAJOR DISTRICT
CALGARY - Alberta’s NDP and parents are calling for funding for new schools in Calgary after it was announced by the UCP that the city’s two major boards would receive no new schools in this year’s Capital Plan. The NDP are also asking for more transparency around how these projects are selected in order to provide certainty to Calgary families.
“As enrolment increases, Calgary students will need more space. But the UCP is fine with cramming more students into already overcrowded schools. It’s not fair to our kids and I worry about what this will mean for their education,” said NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman. “This goes beyond education. It’s about building communities that will attract people to Calgary and create construction jobs at a time when we need them most.”
On Wednesday, the UCP announced 14 new schools and modernization projects. However, no new schools within the Calgary city limits were announced for the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) - the largest school districts in Calgary and the first and third largest in the province, respectively.
“Calgary’s students absolutely need schools and we need them now - not in 10 years,” said Krista Li, a Calgary parent who has been advocating for a Catholic high school on the west side of Calgary. “The situation in west Calgary is but one of many other similar situations where parents are literally begging for schools. This government must address the glaring inequity in funding and understand that the backbone of this province is a well-funded public education system.”
Calgary parents and teachers will be forced to do more with less as CBE and CCSD continue to see increased enrolment. CBE has averaged an additional 2,200 students per year of the past five years while CCSD has grown by about 1,200 new students over the same timeframe.
Happy Toor lives in the growing neighbourhood of Redstone in northeast Calgary. He said his family was promised a school in the neighbourhood when the bought a home there three years ago.
“It’s not right, we need more schools from Jason Kenney and the UCP,” said Toor, who has kids aged 14 and four. “We have so many students and we need to keep class sizes smaller and we need to keep kids learning close to home.”
Usman Sadiq lived previously in Evanston from 2008 to 2015, waiting for the Progressive Conservative Government to build an elementary school there. The NDP Government fast-tracked funding for the project when it came into power in 2015.
Now, a middle school for that Evanston community is atop the Calgary Board of Education’s capital plan, yet it was ignored by the UCP in Wednesday’s announcement.
Sadiq moved his family out of Evanston in hopes of shortening the commute for his kids. He said many remaining in the community were disappointed to see no support for that middle school project or numerous others in the north-central section of the city.
“I believe education should be the number one priority and we should invest in our future,” Sadiq said. “We want our kids to experience quality education with small class sizes and, most importantly, in their community.”
Calgary was shut out of new school builds despite residents paying more in education property taxes under the UCP. The combined impact of the UCP 2019 and 2020 budgets resulted in an 11.3 per cent increase in the provincial education property tax for Calgary's residential property owners.
“This is just another example of Calgarians paying more and getting less under this government,” said Hoffman. “The UCP are fine with handing over billions of dollars to profitable corporations while Calgarians are left empty handed.”