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 become endemic, the biggest long-term issue is funding.
Funding – This affects class sizes, all of our programming, and adds to stresses for teachers trying to do more with less as they address the learning losses over the last year. As a result there is a need for targeted recovery plans that are both division wide and individually specific. I do not believe that the current funding formula, first implemented in Fall 2020, is sufficient for the Lethbridge School division. It prioritizes predictable funding over sufficient funding with a 3-year rolling weighted enrollment average. As Lethbridge is seeing high growth, the funding model actually lags our growth. While such a system can be fine tuned with census and other data to better account for population, this is currently not the case. A K-12 Education funding review by Riep, 2021 indicates that Lethbridge School division is down almost $200 per student per year 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 province 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 base funding and funding outside of the current funding framework, as well as identification and justification of specific funding areas for the school division (for example, 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.