Why Public Education Funding Should Not Be Tied to the Price of Oil

January 19, 2012 :: Barry Litun
Moderated by Ian McKenna

When the Lethbridge School District Board of Trustees approved the 2011/12 updated budget, it reflected the final student enrolment as of September 30, 2011 and the additional funding provided for by Alberta Education this past October when Premier Alison Redford restored $107 million to school boards province wide, approximately 60% of the amount that was reduced in the government’s spring budget.

Arguably, funding for public services in Alberta has been somewhat dependent on the boom and bust cycles of the oil and gas industry over the past many years. School boards would prefer predictable funding, but often find themselves having to cut staff, resulting in increased class sizes, when provincial resource revenues are lagging.

The speaker will communicate how budgetary restraints have been applied and speculate on remedies that could stabilize future education funding in Alberta. As well, he will touch upon some general initiatives and challenges in the Lethbridge School District, such as an initiative to enhance instruction in order to increase student engagement and provide support for all students as an identified ‘Change Agent’ jurisdiction in the province’s Action on Inclusion initiative. Increased diversity of student demographics and the need to include other agencies to provide ‘wrap around services’ for students and their families, will also be discussed.

Speaker: Barry Litun - Superintendent, Lethbridge School District No. 51

Barry Litun serves as the Superintendent for Lethbridge School District, a position he has held since 2006. Lethbridge School District has nineteen schools with 8700 students from Pre-School to Grade 12. Barry has been a teacher and administrator in Alberta throughout his career; previously in Red Deer, Whitecourt and Lamont. He has also taught courses for Red Deer College and City University.
As the College of Alberta School Superintendents Past President for 2011/12, Barry Litun is completing a four year term on the provincial CASS Executive. He has completed a three year term on the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, is a member of the Chamber’s Tourism Committee and is the chair of the Rotary District 5360 scholarship committee

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