Government announces $20 million in additional funding to assist school divisions

Herald File Photo

The Government of Saskatchewan announced on Thursday that they are providing Saskatchewan’s school divisions with a one-time investment of $20 million in funding for the 2022-23 school year to assist with rising fuel and insurance costs.

As a result of these additional funds, school divisions will be able to prevent inflationary costs from diverting resources away from classrooms.

“Our government recognizes the impacts rising costs across the country have on our schools and we are committed to ensuring every Saskatchewan student and teacher has the supports needed to achieve success in the classroom,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a press release.

Locally the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division will be receiving $956,200 and the Prince Albert Catholic School Division will be receiving $262,500.

Both divisions passed balanced budgets at their final meetings of the school year on June 20.

“Now that school board budgets have been submitted, we have weighed the impact of fuel and insurance costs on their operations and are in a position to provide further assistance to divisions,” Duncan said.

The North East School Division (NESD), which serves Melort, Nipawin and Tisdale among other communities received $672,400.

As part of the 2022-23 budget, the Ministry of Education announced a record investment in education spending of $2.88 billion.

That funding included $1.99 billion in school operating funding for the 2022-23 school year, an increase of $29.4 million or 1.5 per cent over the 2021-22 school year.

With this additional investment, school operating funding exceeds $2 billion for the first time in the province’s history.

In addition to the increase in operating funding, the province also announced a new $7 million fund to allow school divisions to hire up to 200 new educational assistants for the 2022-23 school yea

NDP calls funding a ‘band aid’ approach

On Thursday, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck responded to Minister Duncan’s funding announcement and his comments that he has no ability, as Education Minister, to guarantee stable, long-term funding for school divisions. She urged the government to match school division shortfalls and immediately commit to predictable long-term funding.

“School divisions are facing sky high inflationary pressures and the funding announced today is a drop in the bucket that only covers the shortfalls of six out of twenty seven school divisions,” said Beck. “Since budget day everyone has been telling Scott Moe his austerity budget didn’t cut it. Why did he wait until school division budgets were finalized to lift a finger to help?”

The projected shortfalls of Saskatoon Public, Saskatoon Catholic, Regina Public, Chinook School Division, South East Cornerstone and Regina Catholic alone total $19.9 million.

At the government’s press conference, further questions were raised about how far this funding goes to addressing some of the long-term financial pressures facing school divisions, to which Duncan responded:

“There’s no education minister that could be in a position to be able to provide a guarantee to school divisions in the future in terms of what they’re [funded]. That’s just not the way we do budgeting in Saskatchewan.”

Beck said the province has a “reactive band-aid approach” to education budgets, which forces schools to “pinch pennies year after year”.

Beck added that if the government could afford to fly cabinet ministers to North Battleford for $8,000, they could provide more funding for education.