Budget discussions and planning for the 2023-2024 school year have already begun in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division.
Director of education Robert Bratvold outlined some possible challenges for the upcoming budget during his director’s update on Monday. Bratvold told the board that rural depopulation and changing enrolments mean that the baseline budget will be starting from a significant deficit position.
“We’ve been mostly protected.,” Bratvold said. “It’s been a gradual thing, but we’ve seen some impacts of that in the last year, and that’s something that’s going to pose a challenge for us.”
Adding to the challenge is that other larger centres like Saskatoon, Regina and divisions that border them, are seeing enrolment growth. Bratvold said that could mean the distribution of funding is less favourable to Sask. Rivers.
“Projections are somewhat lower than this year, and so we’ve got to budget accordingly for that,” he said.
The increase in needs for intensive supports and recovery from COVID-19 disrupted learning is also creating more pressure on staff and resources. Inflation, which is affecting everyone is also a concern.
“There’s an inflationary pressure that everybody else is seeing across the country, so we’ve got to manage that,” Bratvold said.
Bratvold added that the $500 cheques sent out this winter may be a sign that this year’s budget will be less harsh.
“That’s maybe some signalling that there is some capacity for the province to increase its support for education,” he said. “I think there’s good grounds for that, so that might make our budget manageable. (We’re) starting from a challenging position, and we’ve got some work to do to find a way to balance.”
Overall, Bratvold expects that the other revenue would go to items like collective agreements and other government priorities.
Sask Rivers board highlights school celebrations
At their meeting the Saskatchewan Rivers board of education also publicly approved the naming of the East Central Outdoor Rink as The Matt Swaby Memorial Rink. They also gave approval to the Michif celebration at St. Louis.
“Those two really celebratory events, really bringing communities together and, you know, fantastic opportunities and support from communities that we serve really, really good stuff,” Bratvold said.
The Board received a request to name the East Central rink facility at a recent board meeting.
After examining the community engagement process and gaining permission from Swaby’s family, the Board approved the request.
The East Central rink held their official opening last week. Members of the Board and senior administration joined the East Central community for a dinner, ribbon cutting, and inaugural skate which included the first lap taken by Matt’s family.
The Board expressed sincere appreciation to be part of both evenings.