While the government of Saskatchewan flaunts a surplus of $1 billion in its budget, school boards are facing shortfalls potentially in the millions.
An email sent out by Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to teachers said the chief financial officer is looking over the numbers, but currently anticipates needing $1.5 million to $2 million just to maintain the current level of programming.
“After an initial review of the budget, it is becoming clear that funding rates are staying static, and any increases are tied to student growth,” the email read.
GSCS said fixed costs like insurance and utilities are rising.
It added that in-year growth since the end of September 2022 is already near the projected enrollment for this September. GSCS said it sees no signs of the growth slowing down, and that additional funding would be needed.
The Sask. Party government has a trend of increasing the budget for education each year by one or two per cent, save for a couple of outliers:
- In 2023-24 the education budget increased by 2.5 per cent
- In 2022-23 the education budget increased by 1.3 per cent
- In 2021-22 the education budget increased by 11.5 per cent
- In 2020-21 the education budget increased by 2.4 per cent
- In 2019-20 the education budget increased by 1.4 per cent
- In 2018-19 the education budget increased by 1.6 per cent
- In 2017-18 the education budget decreased by 1.2 per cent
Organizations like the Saskatchewan School Board Association and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation have been calling for more investment in education for quite some time.
They’ve said the underfunding is contributing to the erosion of the publicly funded system, adding the budget announcement on Wednesday was no different.
Schools have tried to cope with the cuts, adding in fees for students who remain at school during lunchtime, and cutting full-time teaching positions.
One-time funding for schools has been handed out on occasion by the Ministry of Education, but educators have been calling for something more consistent.
Diane Boyko, chair of the GSCS board of education said there was some anticipation of more funding for schools after hearing there was a surplus.
“We were disappointed there wasn’t that give, since there were all those asks that wanted us to have more sustainable dollars,” Boyko said.
She said they appreciate the money that did come through, but they are still facing a shortfall and are having to crunch the numbers.
“At this point, we’re looking at what our numbers are and delving deeper into that. Everything is on the table at this point, and we’ll see where it takes us once we have some final numbers.”
Boyko said they’re still feeling the hurt from back in the years between 2016 and 2018.
“We are still recovering from what happened in that 2016, 2017, 2018, those years where we had to do a huge amount of cuts. And so the recovery has not been easy, we’ve done the best that we can.”
She said the lobbying will continue to try and get the funding to give the best education they possibly can.
Global News reached out to Saskatoon Public Schools for comment, but they declined until they could review their budget in depth.