Education Minister David Eggen must investigate why families are being taxed to pay for litigation challenges against expanding parental choice and increasing the presence of separate school districts across the province, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
In May, the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta (PSBAA) unanimously passed a motion to establish a special levy to develop a “Constitutional Litigation Reserve” to fight against a new Catholic school in Lac La Biche. The so-called levy includes placing a tax of 90 cents on every student at school boards belonging to the PSBAA and litigation challenges could cost up to $1.2 million.
The memo regarding the passing of the motion was released in September and recently obtained by Wildrose. PSBAA is a voluntary organization consisting of 28 school boards and receives indirect provincial funding through taxpayer funded school board membership fees.
“At a time where our education system is facing unprecedented growth pressures, it’s wrong for tax dollars that should be used to educate students instead being used to limit the growth of more schools and expansion of choice for families in communities across Alberta,” Wildrose Shadow Education Minister Mark Smith said. “Families shouldn’t be taxed to fight legal battles against new schools. We hope Minister Eggen will investigate and end this diversion of tax dollars and make sure every education dollar is actually being spent on education and not litigation.”
The levy placed on each student would raise over $130,000 within the next year.
Wildrose Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills MLA Dave Hanson said people are upset education dollars are being put towards fighting against the expansion of classroom space and improved choice for families in Lac La Biche.
“This should be about doing what’s best for kids, and ensuring parents have access to as many choices for education that can be available,” Hanson said. “While we appreciate the work that the PSBAA does, we hope this litigation fund will be withdrawn so that the focus will return to adding new classroom spaces for families in Lac La Biche.”