Update from the MLA

By Bruce Hinkley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose. First published by the Camrose Canadian Sept. 22, 2016.

Welcome back everyone! Welcome back to another great year of learning.

As students head back to school I just want to share some perspectives from our government. Our government is committed to providing students with an education that enriches their lives and prepares them for their future careers in a diversified economy.

This is an exciting time of the year.

Budget 2016 maintained stable funding for educational choice - including home education, private schools and charter schools.

We want to equip parents, teachers and students with the information they need to prepare for a successful school year. Our back-to-school content is available at: education.alberta.ca/back-to-school. The website includes resources and information about career and technology programs that help prepare students for bright futures.

We believe building new schools is one of the most important investments we can make in our children’s futures, and in the future of this province. Some 30 new schools and modernizations will be completed in time for students this September, with another dozen or so open by the end of 2016. Information on specific projects is available online at www.projects.alberta.ca.

Alberta Education is embarking on a new curriculum development process that will set a road map for the future of education in Alberta. This will allow us to build better connections across subjects with cross-curricular competencies such as numeracy and literacy. The curriculum will also be developed simultaneously in French and English for the first time. We anticipate Kindergarten to Grade 4 will be completed in late 2018. All Albertans will have the opportunity to provide their feedback this fall via an online survey.

To honour the commitment made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are enhancing curriculum so all K-12 students and teachers will learn about residential schools, treaties and First Nations, Metis and Inuit history, perspectives, culture and contributions.

Minister of Education David Eggen has been working with the province’s 61 school boards through the summer on their policies to support safe and caring schools.

Budget 2016 maintained stable funding for educational choice - including home education, private schools and charter schools. Funding for homeschooling and the policy for reimbursing families have not changed. We routinely monitor the standards being upheld in all forms of education.

Budget 2016: $9.8 billion (operating $7.9 and capital $1.9 billion).

Some budget highlights:

Government spending: $45 million per day students are in school. $6.9 billion support to public, separate, francophone and charter jurisdictions ($209 million or 3.1 per cent growth).

Funding could add 360 teachers and 260 support staff (estimates - school authorities make staffing decisions).

$1.6 billion to support 200 new school and modernization projects with 48 projects expected to be completed in 2016 /2017 fiscal year.

Capital plan includes $900 million over five years for infrastructure maintenance and renewal.

On another note with regard to education, I would like to congratulate the University of Calgary (one of my alma maters), which this year is celebrating 50 years of autonomy, ambition, adventure and audacity.

I am very proud to have studied there and would like to quote some of their leadership initiatives: "Over time, the university has adapted in terms of continued and practical sustainability. The energy-saving cogeneration plant supplies campus buildings with 99.9 per cent of their power, cutting the university CO2 emissions by 80,000 tonnes and saving $3.5 million in energy costs annually. Very early in the university’s development grounds and maintenance figured out how to use recycled or brown water to irrigate and maintain gardens and land; they were in the vanguard of green awareness. An extensive institutional sustainability plan to become a net zero waste campus has been in place since 2011."

Take care, everyone.