When is the Government of Alberta going to start caring about education?
When the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta formed government over two years ago, we heard promises about how education was going to be at the forefront of the government’s plans. Since then, we have also seen all kinds of broken promises regarding education.
In March of last year, the government cut $147 million in postsecondary education funding. Yes, $50 million of those cuts were returned – returned too late for any of Alberta’s postsecondary students to benefit from it.
In April of last year, the government announced 50 new schools in the province, 19 of them to be funded through a P3 model, including one in Blackfalds which would be opened in time for the 2016-2017 school year.
Last week, that promise was broken too when the P3 model was scrapped, meaning those 19 schools, including the one in Blackfalds, will likely be delayed.
An article in this week’s Lacombe Express examines the reactions of Wolf Creek Public Schools Superintendent Larry Jacobs and Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol. Those reactions might be summed up in one word – disappointment.
If you were looking forward to something that you were told would happen at a certain time and then were told that you might have to start some of the process over and thereby delay the project, you would be upset too. It’s admirable that the government has (finally) started looking at ways to save money, but saving $14 million on a $570.7 million project?
Is it really worth delaying this desperately needed service for a 2% savings?
Another word that might sum up how most people banking on these proposed schools are feeling is confused.
Confused as to whether or not the government really cares about the next generation of Albertans, or education, or keeping promises. Stol said she is confused about why it is taking so long for the construction of the school to get started in earnest. When speaking to the Lacombe Express last week, she mentioned how Blackfalds is a community that gets things done when it decides it needs something and used the Blackfalds RCMP and the Abbey Centre as examples.
If Blackfalds can build a recreational centre housing a playground, pool, field house, running track and gym in five years from project conception to completion, how does it take 14 months for the government to hit the reset button on a project that hasn’t even put a shovel in the ground yet?