Local schools preparing for budget cuts

By Angela Brown
March 22, 2017 - 4:38pm

Local school divisions will need to get ready for budget cuts after the province announced a 1.2 per cent reduction overall across the province in operating funding for school divisions in its budget, released Wednesday. The overall Ministry of Education spending is down 6.7 per cent from last year.

Shannon Lessard, communications coordinator with Living Sky School Division, said the school division has been preparing for the announcement, although it hasn't made any plans yet.

"You're never happy with a decrease," she said. "But we knew that was coming so it's not a surprise.

"For us, we have been looking at our budget through this past year because we knew there would be a decrease coming forward," she added. "Any decisions that we make going forward we will always keep the students’ education at the forefront when we are making those decisions."

The school division will likely look at administration costs and other ways to save money to make up for the short-fall in funding.

Living Sky School Division operates 29 public schools in 18 communities, including the Battlefords area.

On the funding decrease announced, Lessard said "We don't know exactly what that will mean for our school division."

She added the school board directors will be meeting with the province in Regina on Friday, so they will have a better idea after that what the exact decrease will be for Living Sky school division.

The division's budget will be finalized at the board level in June, so over the next few months the division will be reviewing its budget.

Lessard said while the school division isn't happy about the decrease, it is satisfied with other announcements related to education.

There will be no change to the process of having elected board trustees for school division boards in the province. 

"We think it's really important to have locally elected school boards, so that is staying," she said.  

She was also pleased there won’t be any changes for the structure of the school divisions which was a question of concern announced in the news recently.

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation is critical of the new provincial budget for "under-valuing" public education. 

"The announcement of a reduction of 1.2 per cent in operational funding is troubling," said STF president Patrick Maze in a release. "School divisions are still to be briefed this Friday on the details, so uncertainty remains as to how they will actually respond.

“It is one thing to expect budget cuts during tough economic times, but the last thing that should be affected is student learning."


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