News Online: Board wants government to ban casino funding from all schools

Published online at on January 19, 2011.

Linda Hoang, Global News: Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Board wants government to ban casino funding from all schools

Edmonton Catholic School Board trustees voted Tuesday night to eliminate gambling activities as a source for school funding.

After a unanimous vote, the board is adopting the position that “no school or school community in Alberta should have to raise money through gambling activities in order to meet children’s educational needs.”

It’s been an issue since the fall when the Archbishop Richard Smith said he didn’t want gambling money helping fund catholic schools.

Now the board is expanding that belief, saying no school in Alberta should be funded through gambling and that it’s the “province’s responsibility to provide adequate and sustainable funding” for public education.

They add that they don’t see “this type of fundraising as meaningful engagement in children’s education.”

Funding through casinos and other gambling fundraisers have been used to pay for school fieldtrips, hot lunch programs, equipment and other “extras”.

It’s something Sonja Willier, assistant principal at Mother Theresa School, says is necessary for students, especially high needs students at inner city schools like hers.

“That’s significant. That a child doesn’t have to worry where they’re going to get their food to eat everyday… or feel different than their peers because they don’t have or can’t make a lunch,” Willier said.

Every 18 months, about $6 million dollars is raised through casino fundraising.

It’s an amount the school board can’t see being raised without help from the government, once casino fundraisers are eliminated as a revenue resource.

“The boards that I’ve worked with have not been able to think of anything that could make $80,000 in two days,” said Debbie Engel, chair of the Edmonton Catholic Board.

But representatives with Alberta Education say ministry money is solely for student and school necessities. Fundraising is considered an extra.

What it will likely come down to, Engel says, is whether hot lunches, computer labs, educational field trips and more, will continue to be classified as “extras.”

The board will continue to use revenue generated from gambling while they now look for “substantial alternatives.”

Click here to read the article on the Global Edmonton website.

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