Sask. per-student spending 2nd-lowest in country: study

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Sask. per-student spending 2nd-lowest in country: study
Saskatchewan was once the highest-spending province on public schools in the country -- but that was 10 years ago. Now according to a Fraser Insitute study, the province ranks second last. – Aug 29, 2023

Saskatchewan was once the highest-spending province on public schools in the country — but that was 10 years ago.

According to a study released by the Fraser Institute, over an eight-year period from 2012-13 to 2020-21, Saskatchewan dropped to second-last in provincial spending per student in the country.

And while certain numbers show an increase in spending from the government on public school funding, those at the Fraiser Institute said those numbers don’t include inflation.

Between 2012 and 2021, public school spending went up by $261 million, but factor in inflation and spending is down 11 per cent over that period.

“Yes, our education dollars alone are more than they have ever been, but that doesn’t mean that those dollars are going as far as they used to,” Samantha Becotte, the president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, said.

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Becotte argues the lack of funding is most felt in the lack of services they are able to provide to both students and teachers.

“More public services are being relied on within our schools, but at the same time, our education budget is falling behind, which means we have less access to those services,” she said. “It’s just compounding on top of itself.”

The lack of funding is showing itself inside the classroom as well.

“We have a decreasing number of English as an additional language support and we are seeing a growing crisis in mental health in our youth, and yet the number of counsellors are decreasing,” she said.

She believes investments in education need to be seen in the long term and not just on an election basis.

“Funding needs to match the growth rate in Saskatchewan, and it should also be matching the inflation rate because schools have inflationary impacts as well to their budget.”

Premier Scott Moe said it may be time to check in more often on whether or not budgets are accomplishing their goals.

“We have always recorded our student counts on a once-a-year basis,” Moe said. “I think moving forward due to the rising inflationary costs that we have and how that impacts schools … I think we have to have an ongoing conversation between our Ministry of Education and the school divisions on how we ensure that we are being responsive to those inflationary pressures.

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“We need to address that maybe on a more frequent basis than what traditionally has been the case.”

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