Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWSD) is pleased to see funded enrolment growth and stable grant rates included in Budget 2017.
Superintendent Sheldon Rowe says the government is living up to its commitment to support education by maintaining existing grants.
If the recently tabled Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees is passed, PWSD, like other boards, will receive a grant to cover the cost of basic instructional fees, which include the cost of textbooks, workbooks and paper.
"While the economy is improving, these are difficult times for many of our families. If approved, the government's program to reduce school fees will go a long way to assist families," adds Mr. Rowe.
Board Chair Dana McIntosh is hopeful that one of PWSD's top three capital requests will be included in the province's $488 million commitment to school infrastructure. Specific new school projects were not part of the initial Budget 2017 report, but will be included in upcoming announcements.
To address continuous enrolment growth, the Board has identified replacement of Harry Balfour School (HBS) as its top capital priority, followed by a larger high school to replace Peace Wapiti Academy (PWA), and a second Kindergarten - Grade 8 school located in Clairmont Heights. In relocating HBS and PWA beyond the city limits, the Board will also achieve a second goal – reducing transportation times for rural students currently bused through the busy central core of Grande Prairie.
Ms. McIntosh says she is disappointed that Budget 2017 did not outline plans to address the rural transportation grid.
"We are currently budgeting a $520,000 deficit in the area of transportation, which is being offset by pulling funds out of instruction. After years of advocating in this area, we were hopeful that this issue would finally be adequately addressed, given our unique needs created by the large geographical area we cover."