REGINA – Saskatchewan school boards continue to call for increased investment in education, but recognize the priority areas they have identified are reflected in the provincial government’s budget for 2019-20 released today.
“Investment means being able to do more than maintain the status quo,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). “While some funding previously cut is being restored, this budget fall shorts of even status-quo levels, as opposed to the investment we wanted to see for students.”
Today’s budget includes some restoration of operational funding that was significantly cut two years ago, but the increase is not enough to fully meet pressures of growth and inflation. The budget does include announcements on designing new schools, continuing capital projects underway and increasing infrastructure maintenance and renewal. It also recognizes salary increases negotiated as part of the provincial teacher collective agreement.
In advance of the budget, school boards in Saskatchewan identified priorities for investment if funding was increased beyond the status quo, recognizing enrolment growth and inflation. Those included supports for early years, mental health and wellness, diverse classrooms, intensive needs and staffing levels and development.
“These are priorities for the future, where new investment in students would benefit Saskatchewan’s economy,” Davidson said. “We appreciate these priorities are being heard, though levels in this budget will not enable school boards to make significant new investment in these areas. Boards will be challenged just to maintain stability.”
Davidson said school boards will now be working through the individual funding allocations for their divisions to determine what exactly those will mean for the next school year.
“We have heard loud and clear from Saskatchewan people that education is a priority,” he added. “It is important to locally elected school board members that community voices and views are genuinely considered when decisions are being made about education. We recognize and appreciate the Minister of Education for listening and look forward to continued engagement.”