Saskatchewan government restores funding to Cornwall Alternative School
Education Minister Gordon Wyant announced Wednesday the school would receive $761,000, the same amount they received for the past four years. This will fulfill the three-year funding agreement cabinet signed off on in 2017.
This comes a week after funding was cut in the 2019-20 provincial budget, leaving the school’s future in limbo.
Wyant said in Tuesday’s question period that he wanted to consult with teachers, board members and other people affected by the funding cut to the school.
Several former Cornwall students and board members were in the gallery. Wyant met with that group following Tuesday’s question period.
“Certainly heard some compelling stories about some things that were happening over at the alternative school, realizing that if we really want to be respectful of a process in terms of reviewing how we deliver the programming, then the programming at the school needed to continue for at least another year,” Wyant said.
“It’s going to buy us some time so we can move forward and go through a process to determine whether or not what’s delivered at Cornwall, what’s delivered at some of the alternative schools around the province are actually doing what we expect them to do.”
Wyant said they want to get through this review as quickly as possible, so certainty on the school’s future direction can be established.
The education minister will be touring Cornwall in the near future and meeting with the school’s board.
On Tuesday Wyant said he made the decision to cut funding based on information provided to him by officials, and not conducting these talks prior to the budget was a failing on his part.
A former Cornwall student, Delia Delorme, said her impression was Wyant looked at the issue based on numbers and not the human impact. She felt his outlook changed after Tuesday’s meeting. Wyant said Wednesday that was a fair assessment.
Across the aisle, education critic Carla Beck said she is relieved to see the schools funding restored while the review takes place.
“I hope those reviews happen in earnest and before decisions are made about cutting,” Beck said. “That is a real lesson here. We had a lot of hope with the [Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation’s] “Pick a Premier” campaign that there would be a different relationship with the front line and the province in terms of education. I think this whole scenario tells us there’s still work to do.”
Students are referred to the Regina-based school because issues ranging from behavioural challenges, gangs, addiction and/or attendance are keeping them from succeeding in the mainstream system.
The school is currently home to 40 at-risk students between grades 7 and 10. Five students are in Cornwall’s outreach program following their return to the public or Catholic school division.
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