Local St. Albert schools are looking forward to providing a welcoming environment to Ukrainian students and their families thanks to funding from the provincial government.
Schools in St. Albert and across Alberta will receive money from the provincial government for students fleeing the war in Ukraine. The province has committed over $5,000 per student to aid with language, social and educational supports for the 2022-23 year.
Altogether, there are 53 students from Ukraine enrolled in schools across St. Albert. The Greater St. Albert Catholic School division has 18 Ukrainian students.
"We understand that support goes beyond academics, and our teachers are equipped with trauma-informed practice to assist our students and families further. We look forward to additional support from the government and will continue to provide a welcoming community for our Ukrainian families," said Dr. Clint Moroziuk, superintendent of schools for GSACRD
Miranda Baker, communication coordinator for GSACRD, said the division has a dedicated teacher liaison whose role with Ukrainian students and families is to work on social and academic support.
“Along with this liaison, the division offers additional ESL resources, including assessments and placement evaluation, to find the best path forward for our Ukrainian students,” she said in an email to the Gazette.
GSACRD board chair Joe Becigneul said the division is grateful for the additional funding.
"(We) look forward to continuing to provide a welcoming environment for these students and their families," he said.
St. Albert Public School Division has 35 Ukrainian students registered for the year.
Paula Power, communication coordinator for St. Albert Public Schools, said the funds they have received have been “used to help with an interpreter as families transition into our community and schools, and making sure our students have access to second-language supports so they can fully participate in school.”
Power said schools have been working with partnering organizations to ensure families are connected to the community
“St. Albert has done that very well. St. Albert Further Education has been very active in reaching out to schools, organizations, and families to build these connections,” she said.
As for what more the province could do to help schools help Ukrainian families who have settled in the community, Power said flexibility in funding and service approaches could help.
“If a community had some unique circumstances, as families transition and more arrive, flexibility in funding and service approaches would help us best support these students and families,” she said.
On Nov. 14, the province announced an additional $12.3 million in funding to schools for Ukrainian students who have recently enrolled in the school system, with additional funding promised for March 2023.
The funding is based on September 2022 enrolment numbers.
Ukrainian students who enrol after September and “are identified to Alberta Education by the March 2023 count will be eligible for 50 per cent of the grant,” a news release from the province said.
The funding is at a rate similar to the refugee grant at $5,500 per student and will be provided to school officials sometime in November.
The province said there have been more than 2,200 Ukrainian evacuee-identified funded students Alberta-wide.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, speaking at a news conference, said everyone deserves a barrier-free access to education.
“Schools play an important role in the growth and well-being of youth, which is why Ukrainian children need our help to feel supported and welcomed,” she said.