The Saskatoon Board of Education passed its budget for the 2017-18 academic year at a meeting on Tuesday night. The budget includes expenses of $259.4 million, which is down $0.8 million over last year while opening four new elementary schools this September.
Following a significant cut to operational funding from the provincial government, the board has passed a budget that includes several staffing changes and reductions in services, including:
- Dissolution of the Curriculum Materials Centre and library technical services based at Central Office, resulting in a staff reduction of 10.5 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs);
- Reduction of 11.9 FTEs for secretarial positions in schools;
- Elimination of 6.0 educational consultant and coordinator positions, several non-classroom teaching positions re-deployed;
- Elimination of 2.0 FTEs for out-of-scope positions at Central Office through attrition;
- Elimination of the Preschool Support Program and dissolution of the Caroline Robins specialized preschool while expanding the Silverwood Heights Step Ahead Preschool to a full-day program;
- Changes to transportation, such as increasing walk distances and ending noon-hour busing;
- Total school budgets reduced five per cent from 2016-17 levels, despite adding four new schools and nearly 700 more students;
- Five per cent reductions to most Central Office budget lines;
- Significant reductions in governance expenses;
- Reduction in substitute teacher costs to support professional development;
The upcoming budget continues support for the board's two learning priorities, Literacy for Life and Collegiate Renewal. To meet the needs of the projected 683 students that the school division will welcome this coming year, 17.2 FTE teaching positions and 18.7 FTE educational assistant positions were added.
"This has been an incredibly difficult budget," said Board Chair Ray Morrison. "We were able to achieve it while maintaining our pupil-teacher ratios. However, we have once again used our reserves to make ends meet, which isn't sustainable. The changes we have made in staffing and operations will impact the educational experience for our students. Our focus remains on providing high quality learning opportunities for all so they can reach their potential. "
There will be a new Autism Support program at Ernest Lindner School while a Functional Life Skills program will open at each of the remaining three new schools. There is also a new French Immersion program at Dundonald School.