Education changes coming despite status quo in Sask. budget

By Sarah Mills
March 27, 2017 - 11:11am

The provincial budget last week did not amalgamate the 28 school divisions as many had feared. But changes are still coming for the education sector.

The government is amending The Education Act, changing the governance and administrative structure of those school divisions to further ensure money is being spent wisely and in a more cooperative fashion.

"We don't want to interfere with the day-to-day operations, but we may want to control governance costs, admin costs and, in Saskatoon and Regina, we are only having one busing contract," Education Minister Don Morgan explained.

It may also mean a reduction in the number of trustees each school division has in the future.

"We're not going to do a mid-cycle election to do it but we may very well say that for the next election that there will be seven or eight or 10 (trustees) and we would want to consult with them on the appropriate number," Morgan said.

Saskatchewan’s 28 school divisions will receive $1.86 billion in school operating funding, which includes revenue collected from the education property tax.  

This is down $22 million from 2016-17 and represents a 1.2 per cent reduction year-over-year.

"That's going to produce some significant challenges and our members' boards have got some difficult decisions to make as a result of that," said Dr. Shawn Davidson, executive director of the Saskatchewan Schools Boards Association.

While he expressed a desire to work with the government on these future changes, Davidson maintained there is only so much that can be done or is being done.

"There's been $20 million in savings and $9 million in efficiencies in the last year alone and a lot of that hard work has been done and there is only so many efficiencies we can find," he said.

"You know bulk purchases of natural gas, there's multiple school divisions who work together to procure bus purchases, there's lots of that work that's already happening."

The K-12 Education Governance Advisory Panel Review is now available online on the provincial government website.

 

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