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

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

By amending the School Act and introducing 2 regulations—the School Fees and Costs Regulation and the School Transportation Regulation—specific school fees will be eliminated, starting in the 2017/18 school year.

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 .

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

The specified fee reductions must be implemented by the province’s public, separate and Francophone schools.

Included fees

Instructional supplies or materials

Parents will no longer be charged fees for:

  • textbooks
  • workbooks
  • photocopying
  • printing/paper

In addition, all remaining fees must meet several criteria, including being clearly expressed in a board’s fee schedule, as well as being connected to a specific good or service. This means that common or generic fees—often previously referred to, among other titles, as instructional fees, instructional materials, or basic fees—can no longer be charged.

Transportation fees

Bussing fees are being eliminated for the following students:

  • those who live 2.4 kilometres or more from the designated school they attend for regular or special education programming
  • those who have a disability that prohibits them from using regular transportation services
  • those who attend a different school (2.4 kilometres away from their home), at a school board’s direction, because their neighbourhood school is full
  • noon-hour transportation for children attending kindergarten

In some circumstances, bussing fees may still apply, including:

  • if a student lives less than 2.4 kilometres from their designated school
  • if a parent chooses to enroll their child in a school other than their designated school. This includes students attending “schools of choice,” such as alternative programs
  • if the parent or student requests enhanced or optional service, such as pick up or drop off from a secondary location

Also, students who live 2.4 kilometres or more from their designated school,  and take municipal transit, will only pay the difference between provincial transportation funding and the cost of a municipal transit pass. For example, in Calgary:

  • one school year’s worth (10 months) of municipal transit costs $700
  • provincial transportation funding is $549 per student
  • the net cost to the parent cannot be more than $151

Additional fee details

Funding for school boards

Through Budget 2017, school boards will 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.

The budget also increases 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.