Alberta’s government is increasing funding over the next three years to address complexities in the classroom.
Alberta’s government has heard from teachers and school authorities that classrooms are becoming increasingly complex. Many students in Alberta have diverse cognitive, social and emotional needs. Some may have learning disabilities or behavioural challenges, and others may need extra support learning English as an additional language.
By providing additional funding through Budget 2023, Alberta’s government is working to ensure that every student has the supports they need to succeed in their studies.
Increased funding for more staff in schools
Additional funding of $126 million over three years will enable school authorities to hire more educational assistants or increase their hours, provide more training opportunities for staff, and/or hire specialists such as counsellors, psychologists and interpreters. More teachers and other staff in the classroom will help enhance the learning environment for both students and staff. This funding will help school authorities increase staffing supports in complex classrooms, which will enhance student experiences and have positive effects on their personal and social development.
“We recognize that today’s classrooms are more complex than ever, and we are taking decisive action to increase the number of support staff in schools. For students with diverse and differentiating needs, this means more focused time and attention. We appreciate the work that educational assistants and other support staff do to provide positive and successful learning experiences for Alberta’s diverse students.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
Classroom complexity funding is a new grant in the 2023-2024 funding manual and it will be allocated based on student enrolment. This will help reduce paperwork and avoid an increase in administrative burden being placed on school authorities. Funding for the 2023-24 school year will flow to school authorities in September as part of their operational funding.
In addition to the $126 million in classroom complexity funding, Alberta Education is providing a separate grant of $506,000 to Edmonton Public Schools to support a pilot project for educational assistant internship. Once the program is developed and piloted, the program will be broadly available to all school authorities in the province to develop and retain educational assistants in classrooms.
“Education, student growth and development involve so much more than teaching and learning. The classroom complexities grant acknowledges that curriculum attainment is not the only thing that happens in a classroom. It acknowledges that the whole child has educational, social, emotional and mental health needs that must be supported. These dollars will assist us in ensuring that well-trained specialized staff are present in our schools to help teachers address our students’ needs.”
Sandra Palazzo, board chair, Edmonton Catholic School Division
“Educational assistants are essential members of the school community, supporting countless students throughout the province. We are proud to help provide a forward-thinking training solution that will help address educational assistant shortages that many school divisions experience.”
Trisha Estabrooks, board chair, Edmonton Public Schools
Addressing learning disruptions
Learning disruptions caused by the pandemic have also added to classroom complexity. COVID-19 resulted in shifts between remote and in-person learning and increased staff and student absences. To help close remaining learning gaps and strengthen elementary students’ reading and math skills, the government will spend an additional $20 million over the next two years.
The funding in 2023-24 and 2024-25 will be available for students in grades 1 to 5 who need help with their literacy and numeracy. Alberta’s government will have invested a total of $85 million to support student COVID-19 learning loss recovery by 2025. The pandemic also affected the mental health of students, which is why Alberta’s government provided a total of $50 million to support more than 80 mental health pilot projects across the province.
“This investment from government is appreciated, as it will assist school boards in their continued support of student learning and mitigate long-term effects of the pandemic.”
Marilyn Dennis, president, Alberta School Boards Association
“The CASS board of directors is appreciative of the increased funding for classroom complexity and continued funding to address learning loss. The board values the flexibility to address the unique context of each school authority while also reducing red tape requirements associated with this grant.”
Scott Morrison, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents
Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.
Budget 2023 highlights
- Budget 2023 will support the hiring of about 3,000 education staff over the next three years, including teachers, educational assistants, bus drivers and school support staff.
- Alberta Education’s consolidated budget is $8.8 billion in 2023-24. This is an increase of more than five per cent from the previous year.
- Total funding support to the education system is increasing by nearly $2 billion over the next three years, including $820 million to address enrolment growth. Funding will enable the hiring of additional teachers and classroom support staff so school authorities can manage class sizes and the growing number of students.
- Budget 2023 also includes almost $1.5 billion in Learning Support funding for Alberta’s most vulnerable students, those with specialized learning needs and those requiring additional help at school.
- This includes Specialized Learning Supports, Program Unit Funding, English as an Additional Language, Refugee Students, First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
- The funding rate for most of these grants will increase by 10 per cent for the 2023-24 school year to help school authorities manage complex learning needs and address inflationary cost pressures.