Original Published on Nov 03, 2022 at 18:16
Province announces additional education funding due to increased enrollments
By Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The provincial government has boosted operating funding for provincial school divisions by a $15.5 million due to the largest enrolment growth Saskatchewan schools have seen in 20 years.
More than 189,900 students are registered in provincial Kindergarten to Grade 12 for the 2022-23 school year, an increase of 3,840 students compared to the year before.
“The province is experiencing strong economic and population growth and our government is committed to ensuring that everyone in Saskatchewan benefits from this growth,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a press release.
“That includes ensuring the school divisions have the necessary funding to keep providing high-quality learning environments and supports to all students across the province.”
A higher number of students new to Saskatchewan has increased the enrolment numbers significantly, including approximately 500 Ukrainian students enrolled through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program.
Enrolment funding is based on preliminary school division enrolment data collected by the Ministry of Education, which will be updated in December to reflect the Sept. 30 actual enrolment numbers.
This brings the operating budget to a record investment of over $2 billion for the 2022-23 school year.
The Government of Saskatchewan previously announced a one-time investment of $20 million in July to assist school divisions with inflationary pressures and $7 million to assist in the hiring of 200 additional educational assistants in March.
STF calls funding the bare minimum
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation appreciated Minister of Education Dustin Duncan’s recognition of the impact record-high enrolment is having on students and teachers, but said more needed to be done.
“This funding is the bare minimum of what divisions require to address the additional number of students in our schools,” STF president Samantha Becotte said in a media release. “It won’t provide the additional supports students need to ensure their success.”
Becotte said students still do not have access to the support they need. That includes not having enough one-on-one time with teachers. She placed the blame on chronic underfunding, increasing costs, more complicated student needs and growing mental health concerns.
“Since the start of the school year, I have been relaying the concerns voiced to me by teachers across Saskatchewan,” Becotte explained.
“Just last week, I heard from a teacher that students who require speech-language therapy are only able to receive three, 10-minute sessions each school year. Each day I hear stories from parents and teachers in every corner of the province. The word that keeps coming up is triage: moving from crisis to crisis without having time to support students on an individual basis.
“When this nominal funding is spread out amongst all Saskatchewan students, $15.5 million amounts to an additional $82 per student.”
Becotte added that greater investment will be required to ensure that the unique needs of all Saskatchewan students are met.