Staff, programs slashed to deal with Regina Catholic School Board’s $1.5 million deficit

File photo. Global News

More to do and less to work with.

That was the theme as the Regina Catholic School Board approved their 2017-18 budget Monday night in the wake of the provincial government’s $22-million funding cutbacks.

The Regina Catholic School Division is now facing a $1.5-million deficit.

“So this year, it should be a celebration year, we’re opening three new schools with 370 more students,” said Donna Ziegler, the Chair of the Regina Catholic School Board. “But this has been a very difficult budget.”

“The whole board has really had to take deep look into where we can find those efficiencies,” she added. “Off the top we knew that we would have a $1.5-million deficit and we needed an additional $1.7 million to have the school up and running for September. So it has been a really challenging budget.”

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Those cutbacks are being felt in both the classroom and the school board office. The board is reducing seven positions, including one superintendent position, and they are also eliminating Pre-K programs and a preschool program as well.

Ziegler says a large part of the budget was about finding a balance between cutbacks, and the additional students.

“There’s a number of things we had to do to ensure we could have the money available for next year,” said Ziegler. “So we are adding 16.9 new positions for schools to be able to open up in the fall.”

The reduced funding, combined with the 370 new students expected next year, means there will be about $471 less per student.

“We’ve met with parents, we’ve met with teachers, we’ve met with all of our stakeholders and tried to offer them an opportunity for input into the budget,” Ziegler said. “Yes, we have heard from some that they’re not happy with the elimination of certain programs or positions. But for us to open up next year with the budget reductions that we were handed, we’ve tried to make the best decisions we could.”

The Regina Catholic School Division’s 2017-18 budget will now go to the Ministry of Education for a final approval.