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Alberta providing $5 million to increase supports for disabled students

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The Alberta government is spending $5 million to improve access to specialized supports and services, the province announced Wednesday.

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In a press release, the government says $3 million of those funds would be used to support small incidents and fund services.

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This money would allow the school to hire staff or provide equipment to help students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, or complex communication needs.

Education Secretary Adriana LaGrange said in an interview on Wednesday that she had heard from parents of disabled students who were concerned the standard of support had fallen.

“There was a small gap in service for these particular students, and so we’re trying to fill that gap,” LaGrange said.

“That gives it that extra little boost… they need a specific computer or resource that’s available to them.”

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She said the money is available immediately and will be made available directly to public and separate school boards, public charter schools and francophone regional boards.

How much each school board receives depends on the number of eligible students and their location “to ensure adequate funding for rural and remote regions.”

LaGrange said the grant was initially set at $1.8 million but was increased due to high demand.

“We saw a higher demand in the application process.”

Alberta Education said Budget 2022 provided school boards across the province with more than $700 million in funding over the next three years — including $142 million for fiscal year 2022-23.

School authorities are required by the Education Act to identify students with mild disabilities and provide them with the necessary learning support.

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You can invest the new money in teachers, audiologists, sign language interpreters, braille assistants and other specialists, as well as in new technologies and equipment.

Edmonton Public Schools Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks said in a press release that the board appreciates the funding.

“We are proud of the services we provide in our schools to break down barriers for students to access quality education.”

The province estimates that about 7,500 students are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have complex communication needs, accounting for about one percent of the total student population.

LaGrange said that number hasn’t changed much in recent years.

Treasury Secretary Travis Toews is expected to present the 2023 budget on February 28, which will address health care and school enrollment growth.

LaGrange said on Wednesday she’s happy to hear education is among the priorities, but declined to say how she expects education funding to change with this budget, adding only that she “is looking forward to it.” happy to bring my budget forward.”

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Twitter @ByMatthewBlack

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