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Local parent expresses educational concerns during NDP opposition leader's visit

Among the concerns expressed by Ashley Harrower were the prioritization of an educational budget by the Sask. Party, and providing resources for neuro-diverse students including the hiring of more teachers and support staff
Concerned local parent Ashley Harrower (left) speaks following introductory remarks by Sask. NDP Opposition Leader Carla Beck (right) in front of St. Agnes School on Feb. 6.

On Feb. 6, Official NDP Opposition Leader Carla Beck visited Moose Jaw and stood with concerned parents and grandparents outside St. Agnes School to address concerns these parents have with educational funding cuts.

The focus of the meeting was to address students living with autism who may not reach their full potential because of these cuts.

One of these parents spoke at the event after an introduction by Opposition Leader Beck. Ashley Harrower has a five-year-old son attending St. Agnes School. His interests include space, the solar system, and Pac-Man, and she describes him as “a brilliant problem solver.” Her son is also diagnosed with autism and finds it difficult to regulate his emotions in a classroom environment.

Harrower expressed the concern that her son isn’t able to get the level of education he needs to be successful in life, and she said this is due in part to cuts in the school’s funding.

“Teachers, principals, and support staff work so hard with what they have. But it’s like they are grasping at straws. Everyone is burning out because our school divisions just can’t afford to hire and retain staff,” Harrower said at the event. “Every kid deserves a chance to thrive, but I worry about my son’s future.”

Harrower’s son requires specialized resources to thrive, but currently has to share an educational assistant with several other students in the school. Due to his autism, he often needs one-on-one attention, but this attention cannot always be provided due to a limited availability of staff, space, and other resources. In cases such as this, he often has to be sent home.

To cope with budgetary cuts and limited resources, St. Agnes School has had to make do with what space they have available. Currently, the school’s music and art rooms have been converted into overflow classrooms, and due to a shortage of available space, the school is ineligible for the province’s newly launched semi-segregated pilot program.

The Hard-to-Fill Skills pilot program – which is currently closed for a program review as of Jan. 11 – is designed to help employers fill specialized job positions where recruitment can be difficult.

Harrower has described her son’s school as “bursting at the seams” because of these cuts.

Opposition Leader Beck stated that the Sask. Party government has cut per-student funding consistently over the past decade, landing the province in the second-from-last position today in Canada.

Moose Jaw Express / has reached out to the office of Moose Jaw North Sask. Party MLA Tim McLeod for comments, and a further update will be provided addressing both Carla Beck’s questions and Tim McLeod’s response to those questions on the topic of educational budgeting in the province.

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