News / Calgary

CBE noon supervision fee riles parents

Families must pay $285 per child for the cost of childcare over the lunch hour

There's no such thing as a free lunch hour. Parents of CBE students have to pay fees of $285 each year.

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There's no such thing as a free lunch hour. Parents of CBE students have to pay fees of $285 each year.

Increasing noon hour supervision fees from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has parent advocates upset— especially because they argue the fee shouldn’t even exist.

Deanna Bradley, the parent of a CBE student, said from 2009-2011 she never paid noon supervision fees for her kids. Since their introduction in 2012 Bradley said she’s seen nothing but a rise in the cost which have now increased by more than $100 from the original price.

Bradley said in charging parents for noon supervision the CBE is operating on the assumption that kids should go home for lunch each day.

“That is a completely out-dated view,” she said. “How many parents are or can actually be at home every day for lunch?”

According to the CBE’s financial results document for the 2014-15 school year, 48,120 elementary school children stayed at school for lunch (which was 94 per cent of CBE elementary school kids).

The CBE document indicates that the program, which uses unionized employees who work two hours per day, cost $10.5 million in salaries and benefits.

“Why are the teachers and staff—the support staff in a school— why aren’t they working lunch hours on a rotational basis and keeping a third-party unionized worker out of the equation?” asked Bradley.

In an email to Metro, the CBE said prior to the 2001-02 school year, the CBE had a mixture of staff association and parent-operated lunchroom programs and that as of May 2000, employees of parent-operated lunch programs became part of the staff association bargaining unit.

Darlene Unruh, director for CBE area two, said unlike parent-volunteers, the CBE lunch supervisors are trained to address the complex needs and allergies of students, as well are trained in first aid.

“With that comes a system of training, understanding, and protocols that are across our system for all students,” she said.

Bradley said in comparing the CBE lunch program to Edmonton Public School Board’s noon hour service, she found that parents who pay for transportation are exempt for noon supervision fees, and found in an Aug. 2016 job posting that supervisors were simply paid $20 a day.