'An issue of fairness': Prairie Spirit school division says funding not keeping up with costs
The school division that serves students in 28 communities surrounding Saskatoon says it will struggle to cover inflationary costs such as gas in the coming school year.
The Prairie Spirt School Division's board approved its 2022-23 budget on Monday.
Like other school divisions in the province, balancing the books for the upcoming school year proved to be challenging.
While it received a roughly two per cent increase in provincial funding, the extra money will cover a provincially-negotiated two per cent salary increase for teachers.
"(It) will not fully cover other inflationary costs like gas, support staff salaries and utilities. In total, approximately 70 per cent of Prairie Spirit’s budget is dedicated to instruction," the division said in a news release.
The division will dip into its financial reserves to help offset its costs.
“We are concerned about sustainability because we’re using reserves to balance the budget,” board chair Bernie Howe said in the news release.
“We know our students will need ongoing, additional supports following the pandemic.”
The division says over the past decade, it has made "significant budget reductions in response to provincial funding levels, despite increasing enrolments."
The division expects 11,929 students to attend its schools in the upcoming school year, an increase of an estimated 150 students over last year.
Prairie Spirit's director of education said there will be no division-wide staff cuts, though there may be "usual" adjustments based on enrolment.
“This is an issue of fairness, as Prairie Spirit is not receiving the provincial funding needed to fully fund the teacher preparation time in the contract,” Bazylak said.
On behalf of the board, Howe expressed appreciation for provincial funding for "crucial renovation and repair projects" and funding for a new school in Blaine Lake, set to open in 2023.