REGINA – Reduced funding for education in Saskatchewan as a result of the 2017-18 provincial budget will limit the ability of boards of education to mitigate impacts to the classroom, according to the president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA).
“School boards in Saskatchewan will be dealing with significant challenges as a result of reductions in this provincial budget,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA. “While boards each have unique needs and circumstances, inflation and enrolment pressures – combined with the restraint measures in place as a result of the increasingly difficult provincial fiscal situation this past year – will have an impact.”
Boards of education have partnered with the Government of Saskatchewan to work towards the priorities in the Education Sector Strategic Plan and the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth and the SSBA’s member boards want to continue to engage and collaborate to ensure education is the best it can be for students in our province.
“School boards will continue to do everything in their power to ensure students are not negatively affected, but every decision boards of education make can affect the classroom,” Davidson said. “Our member boards firmly believe that all students should have the resources they need to succeed, regardless of where they live in the province or their personal circumstances.”
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association will be surveying its member school boards to understand how the budget affects them. There are 28 school boards in the province, each with unique circumstances, and they will be working in the coming days to identify what the budget will mean for them specifically.
“Education is the most important investment for our province,” Davidson said. “School boards recognize that our province is in a challenging fiscal situation, but our member boards believe that there must be continued investment in students and education to ensure a strong future for our province.”
Investment in education over recent years has increased primarily for capital projects and this certainly has helped with the aging infrastructure and growth many school divisions are dealing with, Davidson noted. He thanked the province for continued commitment to preventative maintenance and renewal funding in the 2017-18 budget.
Regarding education governance, the SSBA heard clearly in recent months from Saskatchewan residents that people want to keep school boards locally elected and keep decision-making close to the communities served. The SSBA and its member boards know the government heard the same messages and are pleased they listened.