WHEREAS there is currently no dedicated provincial funding or grants for school resource officer positions; and
WHEREAS several rural school boards fund school resource officers through cooperative agreements between local school board and local municipalities; and
WHEREAS the programs and support offered by school resource officers are vital in ensuring the safety and well-being of Alberta’s students and our schools;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to provide dedicated funding for school resource officers in rural area schools for the benefit of families and communities.
School resource officers deliver important education programming (including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program), offer invaluable student mentoring and guidance, and represent a necessary safety presence in schools throughout the province.
Without a dedicated provincial funding source, school boards are placed in a position of prioritizing limited resources between provincially mandated curriculum and activities and the safety of their students and their schools.
Given their valuable work, municipalities have based upon ability and available resources, stepped up to fill this funding void.
This lack of provincial funding represents a downloading of the province’s responsibility to fund vital elements of a safe and secure school system onto municipalities and school districts, and is a missed opportunity to support the health and well-being of our students.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Education: Alberta Education (AE) has budgeted $7.5 billion for public and separate school board operations in the 2016/17 fiscal year. Ninety-eight per cent of the ministry’s operating budget flows to school authorities that deliver education services to students.
Educational funding is allocated primarily on a per-student basis. In general, the Alberta funding framework allocates funding to school authorities based on the demographic, geographic and economic environment within which services are delivered to students.
AE provides funding to school boards, which then allocate resources to their respective schools based on local priorities and student needs. School boards have the responsibility to make decisions about staffing, resources and allocation of funding, as they are in the best position to address local priorities. Allowing this flexibility provides jurisdictions with the opportunity to implement programs that best meet the needs of their students.
Currently, AE provides school boards with an Equity of Opportunity grant, which has a density allocation that provides additional funding for school jurisdictions in centres with a population of less than 5,000 people. Rural school boards have the flexibility and responsibility to determine how best to use these additional resources.
Justice and Solicitor General: While Alberta Justice and Solicitor General supports the work of school resource officers and identifies them as a valuable component of community safety and student interaction, the decision to fund these positions generally rests at the local level.
Our government provides $80 million in policing grants annually, with the discretion as to how to allocate these resources resting within the communities and police services themselves.
The Crime Prevention and Restorative Justice Unit is consulting with the newly formed Police Crime Prevention Committee to explore their interest in re?establishing a provincial group tasked with guiding the work of school resource officers throughout the province. Compared to other Western provinces, Alberta is proud to provide the highest level of support for policing to municipalities.
The Government of Alberta’s response indicates that providing school resource officers is a local school board decision for which existing provincial funding can be used. While the AAMDC appreciates the Government of Alberta’s commitment to supporting local autonomy in relation to decisions on how provincial funding resources are allocated, rural school boards often struggle to fund core services and therefore, rely on cooperative agreements to provide school resource officers. Dedicated provincial funding would support the consistent presence of school resource officers in schools of all sizes across the province, and ultimately make for safer and more inclusive schools. As no dedicated funding was provided in Budget 2017 to support school resource officers in rural areas, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and the AAMDC will continue to advocate on this issue.