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Provincial budget reduces PSSD funding by $1M, hikes Holy Trinity’s by $155K

The Ministry of Education is investing $3.1 billion this fiscal year to support schools, early learning, child care and libraries. Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will specifically receive $2 billion in operating funding.
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Canadian money.

The province may have increased funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 education by 6.7 per cent in its 2024-24 budget, but that increase barely registers for Moose Jaw’s school divisions.

The Ministry of Education is investing $3.1 billion this fiscal year — an increase of $192.8 million over last year — to support schools, early learning, child care and libraries. Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will specifically receive $2 billion in operating funding, an increase of $49.4 million over 2022.

Public division response

This budget does not meet the needs of Prairie South School Division because funding falls short by $1 million, board vice-chair Darcy Pryor told the Express. While the ministry invested a record amount of money this year, it also lumped early learning, child care and libraries into the total pot.

The board had already approved a cash deficit budget for 2022-23 using its reserves to cover the $3.9 million hole, so it was fortunate to have that account so it could continue to “operate (a) world-class organization,” she pointed out. 

Prairie South’s operating grant for this year was $83.8 million, while the grant next year will be $83.9 million, the vice-chair said. However, the ministry is deducting $1 million in fees to support the newly formed Saskatchewan Distance Learning Corporation (SDLC). 

Furthermore, the province also reduced the division’s preventative maintenance and renewal (PMR) funding by $290,000, she continued. The board uses that money to make minor capital repairs to its buildings. 

Prairie South’s major capital project submission for 2023-24 was the joint-use school in Moose Jaw, Pryor said. The board is still waiting for information about how much it will cost to construct the building. 

With how upside-down the budget is and the record inflation the division faces, the board and administration will soon discuss PSSD’s current budget even though trustees approved it last September, she said.

“On behalf of Prairie South, I feel confident in saying we will be OK even though we are looking at a shortfall this year,” Pryor added. “Our core business is our students’ learning and (students’) well-being, and we value every single staff member and support (staff) we have in Prairie South who continuously do amazing work for our students.” 

Catholic division response

Ward Strueby, director of education for Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, said the division recognized the small funding increase for education but cautioned that it fell short of covering increases with inflation and enrolment growth.

Specifically, overall funding for the 27 school divisions increased by $49.4 million, which included $30.5 million to address enrolment growth and $18.9 million to address inflation. 

Holy Trinity is receiving an operating increase of $805,000 next year, a jump of 3.3 per cent compared to 2022-23, Strueby said. However, that money includes previously announced funding of $475,000 for enrolment growth and $177,000 for inflation. 

The school division’s enrolment by Sept. 30, 2022, was 2,345 students, which exceeded projections by 93 pupils or 4.1 per cent.

Holy Trinity will use the remaining $155,000 in actual new funding — an increase of 0.6 per cent — to meet its students’ needs and continue to address inflationary pressures, the education director continued. However, it is concerned that the ministry failed to provide adequate money for capital projects and reduced the division’s PMR funding, which could compromise its ability to maintain infrastructure.  

The division has budgeted $37,542,980 for the 2023-24 year.

“We are pleased to see a commitment to fund the upcoming provincial collective bargaining agreement with the (Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation); however, we also need to accommodate negotiated salary increases for our support staff,” Strueby said.

Holy Trinity also welcomed the news that five major and three minor capital projects for other school divisions will proceed, he added. Moreover, the division hopes the ministry will provide adequate funding for the joint-use school project and the École St. Margaret School renovations.



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