Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Preparing for 2020/2021 School Year
(FORT MCMURRAY, AB – January 23, 2020) Fort McMurray Catholic Schools has been diligently working to prepare for the 2020/2021 school year. We would like to share some information with our families now to provide ample opportunity to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Please note- there will be no changes to any fees or programs for this current 2019/2020 school year.
“On a personal level, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of ensuring that as many dollars as possible go directly to the classroom. Having quality, dedicated teachers and supports is essential to student success. Our children spend more time in the school/classroom setting throughout the school year than they do at home with us. We must continue to do everything possible to provide and support caring, loving, quality staff for the benefit of our children now and in their future.” – Fort McMurray Catholic Board of Education Chair Cathie Langmead
Early Entry Program
Our Early Learning Program (EEP), pre-kindergarten, is a language rich program that focuses on learning through play where children interact, explore, and make sense of the world around them.
EEP is an optional pre- kindergarten program that is not fully funded by the province of Alberta. For the 2020/2021 school year the fee for programming will be increasing from $50 to $80 per month. This will increase equity as the fee will be applied to all students entering the Early Entry Program.
Enhanced Kindergarten Program Pilot
The Enhanced Kindergarten Program will end following the 2019/20 school year. This is a resource based decision due to both space and availability of certificated teaching staff. The Full Day Kindergarten program at Father Turcotte School will continue as it was not part of the Enhanced Kindergarten Program pilot.
For over 25 years, Fort McMurray Roman Catholic Separate School Division and the Fort McMurray School Division have operated a joint student transportation system for yellow bus services. The two school divisions also partner with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo for transit servicing most high school students. Despite the efficiencies from our joint transportation system, it operates with an annual deficit of more than $1 million which requires a transfer from instructional funding to transportation.
On September 1st 2019, the provincial government repealed Bill 1 – An Act to Reduce School Fees (September 2017) that eliminated supplies and material and transportation fees for eligible students across the province. To offset the lost revenues from the collection of these fees, Alberta Education provided a grant to school divisions. This grant was cancelled retroactively to September 2019.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo also increased the cost of a monthly transit pass for students from $34.75 to $41 effective January 2020. This will increase the annual transportation cost for the division by approximately $40,000.
The cumulative impact of these two events is significant and the Board will not reduce classroom instructional funding to further subsidize transportation. Therefore, the Board has made the difficult decision to increase transportation fees for the 2020/2021 school year to $41 per month. This equates to approximately $1.21 per ride over the course of the school year. This fee will now apply to all users irrespective of the distance of their home to their designated school. Students requiring specialized transportation will continue to be provided the service at no cost.
“It has always been a trademark of Fort McMurray Catholic Schools to keep as many dollars as possible in the classroom. These changes reflect our economic times. However, Fort McMurray Catholic Schools will continue to lead and serve the needs of our children, our parents/guardians, and this community. This is our commitment; this is our vocation.”- Fort McMurray Catholic Schools Superintendent George McGuigan
“We will not be laying off teachers. Alberta Education has been very clear the education budget will not be increasing over the next three years. Given that our student enrolment increases every year, we will need to make some adjustments to ensure dollars stay in the classroom and continue to look for efficiencies with the least possible impact on our students.” – Fort McMurray Catholic Board of Education Chair Cathie Langmead