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Sask Rivers board pleased with early budget numbers

Inflationary costs addressed board says.
The province is allocating $356.6 million in classroom supports, a $45.6 million increase over the previous school year.

PRINCE ALBERT — During their most recent regular meeting, the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division Board of Education had a first glimpse at preliminary budget numbers for the next school year and how it impacts the division.

The discussion took place during the closed session but it was brought into the open as the meeting ended.

"What we what we're happy about … is that inflationary costs are being recognized, and included in that would be support staff contract increases and transportation cost which has skyrocketed over the last few years,” director of education Neil Finch said.

The province has agreed to provide $356.6 million in classroom supports, a $45.6 million increase over the previous school year. This includes ongoing funding for the Specialized Support Classroom and Teacher Innovation and Support Fund pilot programs.

In a school division press release the board said it was pleased to see a budget that addresses inflationary costs to help the school division to maintain operations.

After many years of advocacy by the board of education, the dedicated funds for supports for learning are welcomed to address some of the complexity in SRPSD classrooms.

“That's a piece that we've been asking and advocating for as a board for several years — for supports, for learning budget to go up — and that has gone up in this budget,” Finch said.

According to the province, the 2024-25 Ministry of Education Budget increases to $3.3 billion – an 8.1 per cent increase over the 2023-24 Budget.

The province said this increase includes $35 million to support enrolment growth for the 2024-25 school year, $8.6 million to increase classroom supports, $66.6 million to fund the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement, $29.8 million to address inflationary pressures, including fuel and non-teacher salaries; and $40 million in annualized funding from the 2023-24 school year for classroom supports and enrolment growth.

The next steps for the Board are to understand the impacts of the budget on a school division with decreasing enrolment as funding is tied to enrolment. Although it is a ‘good news’ budget, the impact of decreasing enrolment is not lost on the Board

"The only thing that is hindering our budget is our enrolment projection is projected to decrease for the fall, and so that does not help,” Finch said.

Finch added that there is always hope about the mid-year adjustment next school year, which follows the enrolment declaration after Sept. 30 of each school year.
In 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, Saskatchewan Rivers had to access reserves to balance their budget.

The division is expected to pass its 2024-25 budget in June.

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