Saskatchewan school boards say provincial budget ‘not good’ for divisions

Click to play video: 'School boards unite in concern over funding' School boards unite in concern over funding
WATCH ABOVE: The government met with the chairs of school boards across the province Friday to discuss its recent budget. Ryan Kessler says the board chairs presented a united front of dissatisfaction – Jun 17, 2016

School board officials believe the provincial budget will be “not good” for their divisions, according to the average response to a survey from the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA).

Surveys were issued to all 28 school board chairs in the province. Every board participated.

“They take very seriously their duties to the children within their care within the school divisions and they want to make sure that they have the resources they need to achieve and to succeed,” said SSBA president Connie Bailey.

READ MORE: 74 classroom staff losing their jobs in the Prairie Spirit School Division

The provincial government’s commitment to fund only half of the agreed upon 1.9 per cent salary increase for teachers was widely considered the least positive aspect of the budget, according to the survey.

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“This may now be our new reality that we have lower revenues and that we look to the school divisions to find economies, to find savings,” said Saskatchewan Education Minister Don Morgan.

Morgan and Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty met with board members Friday in Saskatoon.

The education minister described the meeting as an “open and frank discussion.”

A lukewarm response from the SSBA’s survey didn’t surprise opposition education critic Carla Beck.

“Education, arguably, shouldn’t be one of the first places that you look to cut,” Beck said.

She called on the province to “prioritize learning” and establish a funding formula based on sufficiency, predictability and equity.

The Prairie Spirit School Division confirmed Thursday that 74 classroom staff positions will be eliminated next year, including some through attrition.

With files from David Baxter

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