Students Count candidates for public school trustee are calling for a freeze and audit on all international travel by administrators at the Calgary Board of Education, saying over $250,000 has been spent on unnecessary trips in the last three years.
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According to information obtained through Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the team says high overhead incurred by head office staff travelling across Asia, Europe and South America has cost teachers and students the support they need much more in the classroom.
“We have administrative staff jetting around the globe while asking single moms working three jobs to pay for educational assessments for their children,” said Mike Bradshaw, who is running for public school trustee in Wards 12 and 14.
“At the doors I’ve met so many Calgarians that are out of work and struggling just to get by. They’re going to be disgusted that we pay CBE staff to jet around the globe. It’s incredibly out of touch.”
But CBE spokeswoman Megan Geyer said recruitment travel is an essential part of the international student program, and a portion of international student fees, totalling up to $11 million last year, were allocated to schools.
“This work is part of the for-profit component of the CBE. The program brings in far more revenue in international student fees than we spend,” Geyer explained.
“In 2016-17, international students have contributed a net $3 million-plus to the CBE’s bottom line after covering all costs, fees, staffing costs, finder’s fees, travel, et cetera.”
Students Count is a slate of five candidates, including Bradshaw, Sadiq Valliani, Althea Adams, Lisa Davis and Sabrina Bartlett, all running on the same key points, including improving math scores, reducing bullying and ensuring financial accountability at CBE head office.
Bradshaw added that while Students Count supports opening doors to international students, recruiting costs need to be all but eliminated.
“We need to stop all of this travel and recruitment. Everything is word of mouth now anyway.”