RVS awaits school fee reduction impact

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Rocky View Schools (RVS) is waiting for the provincial budget to learn how the province’s proposed reduction in school fees will play out.

The province tabled Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School fees on March 2.

“RVS’s current instructional resource fees and student transportation fees cover the portion of the cost providing service that the government does not fund in order to provide the level or services our families have come to expect,” Greg Luterbach, superintendent of Rocky View Schools stated in a press release.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Alberta Education to implement this Bill, while ensuring the government fully funds RVS’s current service levels previously afforded through these fees.”

If passed, Bill 1 is proposing to remove bus fees for eligible students travelling to their designated school and children attending school more than 2.4 kilometres from their home will not be charged transportation fees; also families will no longer be responsible for instructional supplies or materials such as textbooks, workbooks, print and paper costs.

In some circumstances, fees may still be charged, for example if parents choose to enrol their child in a school other than their designated school.

The government estimates the fees on the chopping block represent 25 per cent of all fees collected each year by school boards across the province.

“Our government understands that times are tough for Alberta families and is working to make education more affordable. We believe that all students deserve access to a quality education in an Alberta school, and we are committed to reducing financial barriers such as school fees,” David Eggen, minister of education explained in a letter to parents.

The province estimates Bill 1 could save families more than $50 million each year.

Banff-Cochrane NDP MLA Cam Westhead said the government was able to find budget efficiencies to allow for these reductions but did not explain where the efficiencies came from.

“The details will be released along with the budget,” Westhead said.

“Our government is focused on trying to make things more affordable for families and school fess is just one of those ways.”

Rocky View Schools currently charges $105 to $145 per student in Grades 1 to 12 for instructional resource fees, with max of $360 per family, and school bus fees range from $230 to $775 – dependant on whether the student lives in the school or RVS boundary).

“At this time, the specific impact of Bill 1 on RVS is unknown. When the government releases the Bill’s accompanying regulations and 2017/18 grants, we will share information with our parents as to the impacts on our jurisdiction and our families,” Luterbach said.

The provincial budget will be released today (March 16).

If Bill 1 passes it will come into effect in September.

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