Saskatoon Public Schools makes cuts to deal with 2019-20 budget shortfall

Saskatoon Public Schools says funding from the provincial government doesn’t allow it to maintain current staffing and program levels. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

A funding shortfall for the 2019-20 academic year means cuts to staff, according to Saskatoon Public Schools.

Its upcoming budget, which was passed by the Saskatoon Board of Education on Tuesday, includes expenses of $271.6 million, an increase of $3.97 million over last year.

The Saskatchewan government provided a funding increase of $3.5 million, Saskatoon Public Schools officials said.

This amount, according to the school division, doesn’t allow it to address enrolment growth, maintain current staffing and program levels, and provide additional support for student needs.

“We’ve had another year of significant reductions and, despite our best efforts, this will impact students in the classroom. We’ve been forced to reduce valuable positions that work directly with students,” board chair Ray Morrison said in a press release.

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“Since 2015, our operating funding per student has decreased by $779. We have heard government say that education is an investment in our future and it is time that government action matched these words.”

To address the shortfall, operational changes include the reduction of 18 FTE (full-time equivalent) teacher-librarian positions and 15 FTE English as an additional language (EAL) teachers. The board said impacted staff will be re-assigned.

Five positions at the central office are being eliminated – four through attrition and one lay off – and 8.9 FTE Secretary 1 positions at elementary schools, resulting in nine staff members being laid off.

The changes also eliminate the Grade 8 Home Economics/Industrial Arts program, and all non-salary budgets across the division are reduced by six per cent.

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Saskatoon Public Schools eliminating positions due to funding shortfall

Roughly $1.5 million from operating reserves will address the remaining deficit, according to school division officials.

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To address its projected enrolment growth of 448 students and increasing student needs, officials said 15 FTE classroom teaching positions and 17.5 FTE educational assistant positions will be added.

Other additions in the budget include: one FTE special education consultant; four FTE resource room teachers; one FTE staff nurse for John Dolan School; two FTE special education program teachers; one FTE rotational library technician; and a new French immersion program at Silverspring School.

Saskatoon Public Schools operates 62 schools, serves over 25,000 students and employs more than 2,500 professional and support staff.

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