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Holy Family shares study showing ed budget leaves a shortfall

Details of a study on the budget for the K-12 education system in Saskatchewan showed it's inadequate for their needs for the next school year.
Holy Family bd office-4168
Holy Family trustees heard details of a study on the budget for the next school year.

WEYBURN – Details of a study on the budget for the K-12 education system in Saskatchewan showed what the trustees had already been told, that’s inadequate for their needs for the next school year.

Chief finance officer Georgia Hanwell gave the presentation on the provincial spring budget details, with the study provided by the Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials.

She noted that on paper, there was an increase in the budget of 2.5 per cent for operating grants, but after taking out what has already been given to school divisions for the increase in enrolment ($13.9 million), the increase is actually only 0.7 per cent.

“It also falls short because it does not cover the inflation increase, and doesn’t provide for the teacher salary increases,” she said, noting once the salaries are negotiated, with increases in benefits and other costs to local boards, “those increases are going to be much more than 0.7 per cent. They’re not allowing funds to reflect the inflation costs, so school districts are looking at funding for the mandate on class size composition.”

It was noted that the new online school system, now to be taken over by the province, will also come out of the funding increase in the budget, with $23 million set aside to help set that up.

“We don’t get a break on power or energy, paper or products or anything,” added education director Gwen Keith, noting that the new teachers contracts have not yet been negotiated.

“There is no increase for the teachers until that is signed. Even then, the government does not pay for all of the costs around the salary increase,” she said. “It’s the message that becomes part of what the school divisions are saying and what the ministry is saying.”

• In other school board business, Keith noted that there was originally supposed to be details on the Provincial Education Plan at the SSBA Spring Assembly, but no concrete details were provided there.

“The bottom line is, the plan for next year is still being worked on. The teams are creating their action plans – but we can’t wait because we won’t get it in time to do our own planning,” said Keith.

Superintendent Terry Jordens noted the school board’s strategic plan is the best place for the school division to start in regards to the next school year.

“Maybe in June we can give you an update, but there is no guarantee on how much we’ll have,” said Keith, noting they may or may not get some information at a meeting set for May 2.

Meantime, at the Spring Assembly, discussion on budget advocacy was a hot topic for the school boards, said Keith, as was the status of independent schools. There has apparently been a request from some independent school to be associate members of the SSBA, so there was a lot of discussion about whether they should have access to SSBA services and resources, such as legal services.

• Four Holy Family trustees will be going to the national Catholic School Boards Association meeting this year, and a part of it will be taking funds raised through the “Toonies for Tuition” campaign.

As board chair Bruno Tuchscherer explained, this is a fundraiser to help out the Catholic schools in provinces where tuition is not paid for as it is here in Saskatchewan.

“I think this is something we should be doing, having a project like this. I don’t think parishes realize we are one of the few provinces that are totally funded for Catholic education,” he said. “I think there’s a need for supporting other provinces.”

As a member of the Knights of Columbus, Tuchscherer noted the local council has taken it on as a project, providing a $2,000 donation to the campaign. There is a deadline of May 23 to provide funds for the Toonies for Tuition.