Early Education Program Changes for 2020-2021
May 25, 2020 - Parkland School Division’s Early Education Program has had to review and remodel programming in response to the new 2020-2021 Alberta Education Funding Framework and the Special Education Coding Criteria for the upcoming school year.
“It is Parkland School Division’s goal to provide the best learning environment to support our youngest learners,” stated Superintendent Shauna Boyce.
“We do acknowledge and empathize with the many parents who have brought up concerns after being informed of the changes. We realize this will mean larger class sizes with a greater range of students with complex needs. We have had to make some difficult decisions and changes have been made to the number of locations where Early Education programs are offered, and how the program is delivered and staffed.”
"While, overall, Parkland School Division is able to present a balanced budget based on the new funding framework, re-allocation of specialized supports funding and the reduction of Program Unit Funding (PUF) has resulted in the need to reduce the number of Early Education classes we can offer. We remain committed to meeting the needs of all learners, including our youngest ones. To clarify, PSD is working with private playschool providers to provide some services like Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapy, etc. within the private settings."
Funding available to the Early Education program through Program Unit Funding (PUF) is being reduced by close to $5 million dollars in the 2020-2021 budget compared to levels of funding the program currently accesses. This will translate to a decrease from 16 teachers serving 29 classes (some morning-only and some afternoon-only classes) to 6 teachers serving 12 classes of students. Previously, the average number of students in these specialized classrooms has been approximately 12 students per class. The changes will also include the reduction in sites that the programming is offered from 10 schools to 4. Approximately 250 students were a part of Early Education classrooms in PSD during the 2019-2020 school year. Unfortunately, the program will not be able to serve as many children as it used to moving forward.
The funding allocation model for PUF works in a way that money coming in must match money going out. PUF is also not available to Kindergarten students moving forward. However, there has been the addition of the Specialized Learning Support grant which includes funding for kindergarten students with severe disabilities and delays which was formerly funded by PUF. The teaching positions that were eliminated due to the reduction of PUF funding are being offset by additional teaching positions in other grades within schools to accommodate the overall enrolment growth that PSD is expecting in the fall which is approximately 300 students.
Additionally, screening for eligibility for Program Unit Funding and accessibility to the program will be conducted exclusively by school authorities who must be assessed prior to September 1st. (Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, that original deadline has been extended to December 1st.) Previously, Alberta Health Services conducted the majority of this screening.
Early Education classrooms provide extensive play-based programming, enriched with specialized support for children identified as having a severe delay or diagnosis between the ages of 2 years 8 months and 4 yrs 8 months as of September 1, 2020. Programming is also available for children between the ages of 3 years 8 months and 4 years 8 months as of September 1, 2020 with mild moderate delays.
Play Partners, those children with no identified delays, will not be eligible for the Early Education Program.
Universal, targeted and individual programming is delivered in high quality Early Education settings throughout the school division. These schools will include:
- École Broxton Park School
- Brookwood School
- High Park School
- Stony Plain Central School
Each Early Education classroom has a team of professionals dedicated to meet the individual needs of all children. Embedded programming is provided through consultation with therapy teams. This team consists of:
- Speech Language Pathologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Educational Psychologist
- Physical Therapist
- Speech Language Assistants
For further information, contact:
Early Childhood Services