Saskatchewan’s school divisions have a tough year ahead as the provincial budget for education has been cut by $54 million, though divisions such as Living Sky may have not been hit quite as hard as others.
School divisions across the province had a deadline of June 30 to submit their budgets to the government, and Carla Beck, Regina Lakeview MLA and Education Critic for the NDP, is again calling upon the Sask Party to reverse cuts.
“I think what we’re calling on [the minister] to do here is to take another look and understand that it’s very short-sighted to make cuts in education,” Beck said. “We’ll continue to ask for a reversal to these cuts, and to see a shift in the priorities where we’re not asking our students, our kids, to pay the price for the years of mismanagement, frankly, by the provincial government.”
According to Beck, roughly 280 full-time equivalent jobs will be slashed across the province along with a variety of special needs programs.
While some students will transfer to other programs, Beck said she doesn’t believe they will receive the same level of expertise that would have been found in specialized programs.
However, Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, said the government has asked the divisions to look at using attrition along with finding alternate methods of saving money in order to prevent layoffs.
Morgan said he doesn’t believe special needs programs will be affected too harshly by the cut.
“We’ve gone back to the divisions and developed a method of identifying what the supports were that were being provided by those programs,” Morgan said. “We may not find a specific program, [but] our focus will be on individual child-by-child, so we think we’ve got virtually every situation where there was a child in a program last year, a similar program will continue for them this year.”
Randy Fox, Interim Director of Education for the Living Sky School Division, estimates that roughly 50 full-time equivalent jobs have been reduced, but said that the division has been looking at more efficient ways to operate special programming rather than removing them altogether.
“Our goal, of course, is to focus on the needs of our students, and work with our students to make education an effective, enjoyable experience for them,” Fox said. “[Reductions] might be finding ways to still provide the core service or experience of that program, and yet do it in a fashion that is costing us less money…maybe the experience isn’t quite the same, but the core piece of it is still there.”
“We’re hopeful that we won’t see further reductions next year, but for the time being at least, I think we’re in good shape.”
On Twitter: @jgottsel
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