The Saskatoon Board of Education passed its budget for the 2019-20 academic year at a meeting June 18. The budget includes expenses of $271.6 million, an increase of $3.97 million over last year.
The provincial government provided a funding increase of 1.5 per cent ($3.5 million or $60/student). This amount doesn't allow the school division to address projected enrolment growth of 448 students, maintain current staffing and program levels, and provide additional supports for the growing complexity and volume of student needs. In the spring, consultations were held with staff members and parents to gather input prior to finalizing the budget.
To address the shortfall, the budget includes the following operational changes:
- Reduction of 18.8 FTE (full-time equivalent) teacher-librarian positions, impacted staff to be re-assigned;
- Reduction of 15 FTE English as an Additional Language teachers, impacted staff to be re-assigned;
- Elimination of Gr. 8 Home Economics/Industrial Arts program, impacted staff to be re-assigned;
- Elimination of all Secretary 1 positions in elementary schools for a reduction of 8.9 FTEs resulting in nine employees laid off, all elementary schools will have a full-time administrative assistant only;
- Reduction of five positions at Central Office, four of which are through attrition and one employee laid off; and,
- All non-salary budgets across the division reduced by 6 per cent, including school budgets.
In addition, the board will draw approximately $1.5 million from operating reserves to address the remaining deficit. The upcoming budget will support the division's new strategic plan approved earlier this month. To address enrolment growth and the intensification of student needs, 15 FTE classroom teaching positions and 17.5 FTE educational assistant positions will be added. The 21.5 FTE educational assistant positions added in January will be retained.
Other additions in the budget include:
- FTE special education consultant;
- FTE resource room teachers;
- FTE staff nurse for John Dolan School;
- FTE special education program teachers;
- FTE rotational library technician; and,
- New French Immersion program at Silverspring School.
"We've had another year of significant reductions and, despite our best efforts, this will impact students in the classroom. We've been forced to reduce valuable positions that work directly with students," said Board Chair Ray Morrison.
"Since 2015, our operating funding per student has decreased by $779. We have heard government say that education is an investment in our future and it is time that government action matched these words."