Saskatchewan’s new premier is boosting education funding by $7.5 million, which will be split between the province’s 28 school divisions.
During the recent leadership race, Scott Moe promised to increase classroom funding by $30 million to hire 400 education professionals.
“We have freed up these dollars, and they will be made available effective immediately to the school boards across the province,” Moe said.
He says the mid-year funding will flow immediately to school divisions and the rest of the $30 million will be finalized in the upcoming budget. The premier says this funding comes from savings found in the current budget. A more detailed picture of exactly where these savings comes from is expected in the third quarter fiscal update.
Moe says the cash is a “significant amount” which will allow school boards to start hiring.
“I think this is a good starting point to work with our school divisions to add the resources that quite honestly we’ve been asked for, not just by educators, but also by parents,” he said.
“The resources are people in our classrooms, and we’ve made every effort and priority to move on this initiative early, understanding that it will take the school boards some time to build that capacity over the next number of months.”
These requests and need for additional resources follows a combined $55 million cut to school board budgets in the 2017/18 budget.
“I struggle to applaud a government who brings back a little bit of money when they were the ones that created a cut to begin with,” Opposition Leader Nicole Sarauer said.
“So yeah, it’s a step forward, but it’s a tiny step forward and we need to keep their feet to the fire.”
Most school divisions will receive a few hundred thousand dollars as a top for the remainder of the fiscal year. A boost, but for Regina Public School Division and Swift Current’s Chinook School Division, it comes after a multi-million cut.
Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA) president Shawn Davidson said that it is good to see the provincial government prioritizing education, and this move is a step in the right direction.
“This will allow each division to reinvest in those things that they have had to claw-back in the last couple of years as we’ve faced funding challenges,” Davidson said
“For example, in my home school division of Prairie South we had to downsize our supports for learning with social workers and my own division at home is excited to look into bringing some of those resources back as we now have the resources to do so.”
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association has said per-student funding on average is down almost $500 a student this school year.
With files from David Baxter