What do you believe is the biggest issue the school system faces today?

October 8, 2021 locke.spencer@gmail.com

Specifically today, COVID-19 is the biggest issue facing the school system.  Assuming that we are on a path for COVID to subside and in some form becomes endemic, the biggest long-term issue is funding. I do not believe that the current funding formula is sufficient for the Lethbridge School division. The current education funding program in Alberta, first implemented in Fall 2020, prioritizes predictable funding over sufficient funding with a 3-year rolling weighted enrollment average used to establish funding levels. As Lethbridge is seeing high growth, the funding model actually lags our enrollment growth. While such a system can be fine tuned with census and other data to better account for population growth, this is currently not the case. A K-12 Education funding review by Riep, 2021 indicates that Lethbridge School division is down $183 per student as a result of this model.  School boards play an important role in providing local expert knowledge to inform and lobby for their needs. The provincial education funding framework needs to provide sufficient funding for all school divisions while recognizing unique characteristics of each division including urban/rural differences, local poverty levels and other traits which may require consideration in funding of special programs. It is the role of school board trustees to advocate for sufficient funding in general (i.e., base funding and funding outside of the current funding framework), as well as identification and justification of specific funding areas for the school division (i.e., differential, target, support, and capital funding needs).  The Lethbridge community has unique opportunities for target and support funding projects, with population growth requiring attention to short-term and long-term capital project needs.