RVS school board chair Fiona Gilbert says additional funding announced by the Alberta government to address overcrowded classrooms is a welcomed measure.

"Rocky View Schools appreciates the additional funding for enrolment growth and classroom complexity from the government in supporting school divisions like ours," she said at the press conference held to announce an increase in education funding.

"Our schools are seeing annual student population growth of three to five per cent, combined with increasing complexities in classrooms," she said. "These new dollars can be put towards resources in our schools and our classrooms, helping to address some of these pressures."

Gilbert reiterated the division's continued concern with the current weighted moving average of funding utilized by Alberta Education. She says it places additional pressures on already crowded and complex classrooms within growing school divisions. 

READ: RVS instructional funding still falls $3.3 million short

"We will continue to engage in dialogue with the government on priorities to ensure that students can achieve their absolute best. Our board believes that every student needs to be fully funded every year."

Gilbert expressed gratitude for last week's announcement of funding for desperately needed new schools in the Rocky View division, including a K to 8 in Cochrane.

"Once opened, these facilities will help relieve the pressure in our school buildings as we have waited for these approvals to come. We look forward with to working with the government to get these schools open just as quickly as possible and continuing to work with government for new schools in these fast-growing communities."

To illustrate just how rapidly school populations are building in the booming Calgary region, she spoke of W. H. Croxford School, where the news conference was held.

"This school first opened 10 years ago, a decade ago, with just 308 students. Ten short years later, today it has grown to over 1,500 students with the utilization of 116 per cent."

"This is the story of many Rocky View schools in our rapidly growing communities of Airdrie, Cochrane and Chestermere. We know that these are not just numbers that we that we spurt out there. These are kids. These are Alberta's future and they deserve a world class education."

Budget 2024 allocates $1.2 billion over the next three years to enable school authorities to hire up to 3,100 additional teachers and classroom support staff provincewide to help address the 

In addition, more than $1.5 billion is being provided over the next three years to provide specialized learning supports. There is a $26-million increase scheduled for the next three years for the Program Unit Funding (PUF) program for specialized learning supports, bringing the total funding to $209 million in the 2024-25 school year.

Alberta Education provides PUF to school authorities and early childhood services operators to support children aged two years, eight months to six years who have severe disabilities or delays requiring support beyond what is offered in regular early childhood services programs.

In addition to PUF, the budget includes $44 million for the 2024-25 school year to address increasing classroom complexities. Individual school authorities can use this funding to hire additional teachers and specialized classroom support staff so students receive the attention they need.

Of this $44 million, $1 million would be used to increase the number of educational assistant graduates in the province through a Provincial Education Assistant Training program that will support training for current or aspiring educational assistants.

Specifics on the amount of additional funding that RVS will receive should be known within a few weeks. 

In the 2024-25 fiscal year, Alberta Education’s operating budget will reach an all-time high of almost $9.3 billion, an increase of 4.4 per cent from 2023-24.

"I am confident the investments we’re making will help address enrolment pressures while bringing in more supports to teachers so they can help our students achieve their very best,” stated Education minister Demetrios Nicolaides.