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Worries of teacher layoffs surface as UCP announces new schools

Last Updated Nov 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm MST

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange (podium) announces new school projects in Calgary on Nov. 1, 2019 (PHOTO: Saif Kaisar, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The UCP government has announced 25 school projects, including 15 new schools to be built in Alberta.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda made the announcement Friday morning at Nose Creek School in NE Calgary.

The projects include new high schools for north Calgary, Edmonton, Leduc, Blackfalds, and Langdon. The province will also replace six existing schools and modernizations to four others.

Included in the list of modernized schools is Athabasca Delta School in Fort Chipewyan, Alta.

It’s expected the work will cost the province $397 million and LaGrange said they’re investing a total of $1.8 billion in school spaces over the next four years.

Despite the good news of new schools, there are concerns about who will staff them.

Parental advocacy group Support Our Students Alberta (SOS) is worried about the UCP’s spending freeze on education saying it could cost school boards like the Calgary Board of Education millions of dollars.

In a release, the organization said the funding is only limited to four walls and a roof.

READ MORE: Alberta teachers asked to do more with less in provincial budget says ATA 

“This funding does nothing to fill those schools with books, desks, technology, staffing, teachers, playgrounds, and resources,” said Barbara Silva with SOS. “It is left to school boards to use their education funding to fill those schools, school boards that have received the same funding as 2018 but for more students.

“The reality of building more schools, while freezing funding has the effect of creating a larger funding gap for school boards.”

The group also believes the loss of funding could mean layoffs for hundreds of teachers.

On Oct. 24, the UCP released its first budget calling for spending cuts in many departments. While the government maintained funding to education at $8.2 billion, it did not fund enrolment growth across the province.

WATCH: United Conservatives release 2019 budget 

The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) said the student population is expected to grow by 15,000, and school boards aren’t receiving more money to support them.