Sask. Teachers' Federation says education funding won't maintain 'status quo'
The president of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says the 2.5 per cent increase for school operating costs included in the provincial budget won't go nearly far enough.
While the $2 billion devoted operating costs for Saskatchewan's 27 school divisions is a record spend by the province, the STF's president said it won't be enough to even maintain current levels.
"We ran the numbers, we found that we needed to see a 5 per cent increase to keep status quo in education," STF president Samantha Becotte told CTV News at the legislature on Wednesday after the Saskatchewan Party Government unveiled its 2023-24 budget.
• Funding for distance learning, capital projects included in record $3.1B education budget
"We're going to see a cut to services and a cut to supports for kids and it is really disheartening," she said.
Becotte said parents and caregivers can expect to see larger class sizes, as funding is not keeping pace with the rising enrollment in the province's schools.
She also said a $7 million increase in funding for educational assistants (EAs) will provide help but won't fulfill the need in Saskatchewan classrooms.
"Some of the things [EAs] are dealing with, they're just not trained for, there's more violence in our schools, and EAs are there really to support some of the extreme behaviours that we see in our classrooms, so we need more trained EAs in our classes, but we need professional teachers, professional supports," Becotte said.
"Providing more EAs is sometimes a bit of a Band-Aid on a gushing wound in education."
Education minister Dustin Duncan defended the education spending plan and said the ballooning enrollment at Saskatchewan's schools was top-of-mind when crafting the budget.
"Certainly wanted to make sure we were funding the enrollment increases that we have seen last year and this year as well, so that's in the budget," Duncan said.
"We are also providing some additional dollars for inflation like we did last year," said the education minister, who also pointed to a mid-year top-up paid out to schools by the government in 2022.
Duncan said based on enrollment, some schools could see increases beyond the 2.5 per cent stated in the budget.
However, Duncan said those decisions would wait until fall once enrollment numbers are confirmed.
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