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News Release: FMPSD Announces Important Updates for the 2020-2021 School Year

News Release: FMPSD Announces Important Updates for the 2020-2021 School Year

(Fort McMurray, AB, January 23, 2020) The Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) Board of Trustees announced important changes for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year at last night’s Board meeting. This includes suspending KEEP (Kindergarten Expanded Education Program); Transportation fee will increase to $41/child/month; and ECDP (Early Childhood Development Program) fee increase to $80/child/month.

Please note, there will be no changes to any fees or programs for the current school year.

“These were difficult decisions, but due to the economic realities and our effort to be fiscally responsible to our students, staff and parents/guardians, they had to be taken. The fiscal realities of today mean working harder for a better tomorrow for our students, and staff,” noted Linda Mywaart, FMPSD Board Chair.

KEEP

An optional extended program in some schools, KEEP will end following the current school year. The decision was taken based on space, staffing, and funding issues. Dr. Clark Public School’s full-day Kindergarten program will continue as it is a separate initiative. 

Transportation 

For over 25 years, FMPSD and the Fort McMurray Roman Catholic Separate 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On September 1, 2019, the provincial government repealed Bill 1 - An Act to reduce School Fees (September 2017), which eliminated supplies and material and transportation fees for eligible students across the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 $34.25 to $41 effective January 2020. This will increase the annual transportation cost for the Division by approximately $40,000. The cumulative impact of rising fees and lost grants 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 $1.20 per ride over the course of the school year. This fee will now apply to all users regardless of the distance to their designated school. Students requiring specialized transportation will continue to be provided the service at no cost.

ECDP

The Early Childhood Development Program (ECDP) is an optional pre-Kindergarten initiative. It is language-oriented with a focus on learning through play. 

ECDP is not fully funded by the province of Alberta, which is why the 2020-2021 school year will see a fee increase from $50 to $80 per month. This increase will be applied to all students entering the ECDP program.

“Increasing the cost to parents/guardians is never a first choice. The Board and senior administration have worked hard for the best possible solutions in a fiscally challenging climate. We have ensured teachers were not laid off, and classroom resources weren’t depleted despite Alberta Education making it clear the education budget will not be increasing over the next three years. As enrollment continues to climb, we are working diligently to ensure we are Doing What’s Best for Kids,” explained Doug Nicholls, FMPSD Superintendent. 

For more information, please contact:

Kiran Malik-Khan

Communications Manager

Fort McMurray Public School Division

kiran.malikkhan@fmpsd.ab.ca

W: 780-788-8009

C: 780-880-7666