Education Minister questions Sask. teacher shortage

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Debate is beginning on whether the government is meeting its promise on budget cuts not affecting the classroom. David Baxter has more from question period, and why the education critic is questioning a decline in teachers – Oct 30, 2017

The school year is in full swing, but are students learning in over populated classrooms? It depends on who you ask.

Education critic Carla Beck raised the issues in Question Period Monday, citing a Saskatchewan Teacher Federation study. It says that there are 4,500 more students enrolled in Saskatchewan schools this year, but 181 fewer teachers.

Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre called that figure into question.

“The ministry told me that those numbers include administrative positions,” Eyre said.

Eyre said she is waiting on ministry numbers to be finalized before moving on her file. She said that one division still has to report their enrollment numbers, and a finished report is expected to be released by the ministry in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan school boards say more clarity needed on budget cut

School divisions across the province saw a total funding reduction of $55 million through the March budget.

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This cut did eliminate teaching positions in some divisions, such as 22 in the Regina Public School Division.

READ MORE: Sask. government passes changes to Education Act

However, Eyre said the province is not prescriptive in how school divisions use their funding.

“In many ways it’s also about divisions. It’s about where they allocate their funds, whether we’re looking at attrition in those numbers. We have to wait to see how they pan out,” Eyre said.

Previous education minister Don Morgan promised that cuts in education will not affect the classroom, and they had been asking cuts to be made at an administrative level.

Eyre said that once the ministry numbers are finalized, there may be the need for some tweaking in order to hit goals outlined in the budget.

Beck countered that an uneven student-teacher ratio does compromise the learning environment.

“The ability for children to receive the type of education they need, this type of relationship building that is important to academic learning as well as the ability to receive the attention that every child needs in the classroom,” she said.

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