Overview

The Alberta government has proposed legislation to reduce school fees for Alberta families.

If passed, Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees, will end school board charges for instructional supplies or materials and fees for eligible students taking the bus to their designated school.

In 2015/16, these 2 fee types cost Alberta families approximately $54 million. They represent about 25% of the fees collected annually by public school authorities .

If proclaimed, changes would be in effect for the 2017/18 school year.

In the long term, the proposed amendments would provide government with increased authority over all school board fee types related to publicly funded education programming. This could include, but would not be limited to, lunch-hour supervision fees and technology fees.

Affected schools

Bill 1 applies to the province’s public, separate and Francophone school boards.

Fees included in Bill 1

Instructional supplies or materials

If Bill 1 is passed, the definition of instructional supplies or materials will be established in the new school fees regulation.

Included in this category would be fees for:

  • textbooks
  • workbooks
  • photocopying
  • printing/paper
  • any common fees charged to an entire student body or grade cohort

These common fees are often referred to as, among other titles, instructional fees, instructional materials or basic fees.

Transportation fees

If a child is enrolled in his or her designated school, and that school is greater than 2.4 kilometres away from home, families will not be charged any transportation fees.

The removal of designated busing fees will benefit the parents of approximately 145,000 students attending schools from about a dozen boards. In some circumstances—for example, if parents choose to enroll their child in a school other than their designated school–fees may still be incurred.

Funding for school boards

Through Budget 2017, school boards would receive funding to offset the loss of fee revenues as a result of Bill 1. This would help ensure that boards would be able to maintain or increase the education programming they provide to students. This funding is made available through efficiencies and savings found in Alberta Education and other departments.

If passed, the budget would also increase overall funding for education by $213 million in 2017/18 over the 2016/17 forecast, providing school boards with dollars for every new student and protecting grants for First Nations students, English Language Learners and others with diverse learning needs. 

How school fees work

Currently, school boards have the ability to set school fees to cover a number of different expenses, from instructional supplies or materials to computer costs to lunch supervision.

To date, school fees have varied significantly from school-to-school, even within a single school jurisdiction. If you would like more information on the fees for your school, contact your school or local school board.