Moving Forward Together
EIPS Board Chair
As the eighth month of living with COVID-19 arrives, EIPS teachers, administrators, and families continue to work tirelessly to keep students safe while learning in very complex circumstances. Even while those efforts are underway, the EIPS Board of Trustees is considering the realities school boards, municipalities and the province will face in the next fiscal year.
For Alberta, the economic strain of managing the pandemic could not have come at a worse time. With the ongoing depression of world energy markets and the corresponding decline in revenue, both provincial and municipal governments have had no option but to find efficiencies in order to better focus resources on their COVID-19 response.
The same is true for school boards; while we were very grateful for the grant provided by the federal government to cover some of the expenses for a safe return to school, we’ve had no choice but to streamline costs, examine programming, and find ways to continue public schools’ essential work with fewer dollars.
The province’s economic recovery will prove equally challenging given the many financial setbacks Alberta has experienced, and that’s why it’s essential, as we head into a provincial budget set for February 2020, all locally elected officials—MLAs, mayors, and councillors, and school board trustees—continue to work with constituents and with one another on strategies that will help our communities rebuild and ultimately thrive.
I don’t doubt there will be even more difficult decisions we will need to make in the year ahead but I know that if school boards, municipalities,, and provincial government departments commit to sharing information, discussing priorities, and collaborating on solutions, we will ultimately be more successful than if we work in isolation. Strategic planning has already begun in earnest at EIPS and we anticipate much discussion with our elected counterparts as those plans for the 2021-22 school year evolve.
As difficult as it is to believe while we’re in the midst of the battle against COVID-19, there will come a day when we will be able to put this health crisis behind us and look to the future. It will take time to come to terms with the terrible personal losses faced by so many families but with the support of our communities and the resiliency of Albertans, I know we will find a way forward.
The critical importance of a sound public education hasn’t changed. If students are to succeed and contribute socially and economically to the future wellbeing of our province, high-quality learning must remain a priority for everyone. EIPS remains steadfast in its commitment to fulfill its mandate, to work in partnership with community leaders to find the best ways to do so, and to ultimately help lead us through the many challenges ahead.