What is Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees?
In spring 2017, the government introduced Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees. The Bill restricts school boards from charging families for certain fees:
- Instructional material and supplies such as text books, workbooks, photocopying, printing, paper and any common fee charged to an entire student cohort. Within EIPS, these are called Learning Resource Fees. As a result, EIPS is eliminating its Learning Resource Fee, a per-student saving between $25 and $120, depending on grade.
- Transportation fees for eligible students residing more than 2.4 kilometres from their designated school. Within EIPS, fees are charged to students in grades 1-12 who lived closer than 2.4 kilometres from their designated school or who attend a non-designated school. These EIPS families aren’t impacted by this particular section of Bill 1. Previously, a fee was charged for all kindergarten noon-hour transportation. As a result of Bill 1, this fee is now being eliminated for children who reside greater than 2.4 kilometres from the school they’re attending kindergarten at.
What does Bill 1 mean for my child?
As of the 2017-18 school year, fees charged to families will no longer include the Learning Resource Fee. Families can expect to save between $25 and $120, depending on the student’s grade. In the 2016-17 school year these fees were as follows:
|Grades 10 and 11||$120||$0|
Children who live greater than 2.4 kilometres from where they attend kindergarten will no longer be charged a noon-hour transportation fee.
Additionally, school fees for lunch-hour supervision, optional courses, extra-curricular teams and field trips continue to be charged on a cost-recovery basis. Similarly, the purchase of general school supplies also remains the responsibility of parents and is not impacted by these changes.
Per-student fee amounts by school, as reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees and the Minister of Education, is below:
EIPS School & Transportation Fees 2017-18
(the document excludes extra-curricular fees and activity fees, such as for field trips, which are currently with the Minster of Education for review).
Who sets school course fees?
Each school examines programs being offered and the required materials. The cost for additional materials to supplement the program are then calculated. These costs determine the fee charged to students. Other fees are to be used within the school year and are to be set on a cost recovery basis (see Administrative Procedure 505, School and Administrative Fees).
Why are there fee discrepancies between school boards?
School boards work closely with administration to ensure the resources allocated by the government are invested in ways that best serve the educational needs and interests of students—which is certainly the case within EIPS. As a result, school fees charged to families can often vary between school boards.
How do I know EIPS is not making a profit by charging fees?
As per Administrative Procedure 505, School and Administrative Fees, school fees shall be used within the school year and set on a cost-recovery basis. Additionally, fees can’t be charged in lieu of fundraising.
Fees are strictly used to cover a portion of the costs involved in delivering the program for which they are charged. Some fees are identified to cover the costs of specific optional activities, such as field trips, yearbooks and graduations. The fees related to these activities are not mandatory, should a student choose not to participate.
Will the fee reduction impact programming this year?
No. The province’s 2017 budget included a $54-million fund to offset the revenue loss projected as a result of Bill 1. Each school board is being provided with funding to offset that loss, based on basic instructional fees collected during the 2015-16 school year. For EIPS, that’s $1.22 million.
When are fees due?
Fees are due within 30 days of being assessed. Parents and independent students have a number of payment options, including paying at the school and paying online using Visa, MasterCard or INTERAC Online—when available at the financial institution.
Are school supplies included in the basic instructional fee?
No. The purchase of general school supplies remains the responsibility of parents and is not impacted by Bill 1. If schools are purchasing supplies in bulk on behalf of parents, they can continue to do so on a cost-recovery basis. Parents have the option of buying these supplies from the school or on their own.
If the cost of purchasing items places a burden on a family, there are other options available. For instance, EIPS partners with the United Way for its Tools for School campaign on an annual basis. The program provides backpacks and school supplies to students in kindergarten through Grade 12 whose families have limited resources. Families either order the supplies through their school or call the EIPS Central Administration. The supplies are then distributed discretely at the start of the school year.
What are the options if a parent cannot pay fees?
If circumstances exist where you’re unable to pay student fees, you can apply to have certain fees waived (see Waiver of Fees). If it's determined fees aren't eligible to be waived, based on the submitted application, payment options may be made with the school’s administration.
What if school fees remain unpaid?
If fees are not paid, they will be forwarded to a collection agency (see Administrative Procedure 505, School and Administrative Fees).
Why does EIPS not use tax-generated revenue, instead of charging fees?
School jurisdictions receive funding from Alberta Education. The funding is separate from the local taxes, which are assessed and collected by local municipalities. The provincial government sets provincial education tax rates, and funds collected are allocated to school jurisdictions based on the provincial funding framework. There is no direct correlation between the taxes collected locally for schools and the provincial funding framework.
(last update: September 2017)