Regina Public Schools considers spending cuts to maintain service level: letter
Regina Public Schools is looking to save money as the division expects to receive less funding than it needs to maintain its current services, according to a letter to all staff Monday.
The school division serves more than 24,500 students attending several dozen schools, and the letter indicates it has added more than 600 new students since September 2022. It received an increase to operational funding of one per cent — or $2.5 million — for the next school year, says the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News.
The division, however, needed a three-per cent increase — or $7.5 million — to maintain a "status quo budget" that offers the same services without "significant enhancements or reductions," the letter says.
"That will require us to take measures … that will have impacts across the school division, as well as, potentially, to families," said Darren Boldt, Regina Public Schools' director of education, who sent the staff letter.
The potential measures listed in the letter include charges to parents for lunch-time supervision; reducing spending on technology, learning resources and facility projects; and reducing instructional positions in schools.
"We could see an increase in the pupil-to-teacher ratio," Boldt said. "It would come across as a small percentage, but it will be felt in the schools."
No continuing or permanent teachers would be laid off, Boldt explained. The division would resort to not filling vacancies created by resignations and retirements.
The education sector has raised concerns, such as inflation and significant increases in student enrolment, since the 2023-24 provincial budget was released in March. Most recently, stakeholders, particularly the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, aired their concerns again at a rally last weekend outside the Legislature in Regina.
The provincial government earmarked about $2 billion in operating funding for Saskatchewan's 27 school divisions next school year, an increase of $49.4 million — or 2.5 per cent — from the current year, according to the budget.
Regina Public Schools is only receiving a small fraction of that, so it's examining how it can save money as it prepares its budget for the following school year, according to the staff letter.
Earlier this week, Premier Scott Moe said more money will be made available, but couldn't say when exactly.
"We look forward to working with school divisions, based on the announcement that the premier made earlier this week, Mr. Speaker, that there will be additional funding coming," said Education Minister Dustin Duncan during Wednesday's question period.
Regina Public Schools will finalize its budget next month, Boldt said, so it would be ideal for any further funding to come before then, because that would allow the school division to adjust its budget accordingly.
The provincial government has previously allotted large one-time sums for school divisions after budgets are finalized. It approved $20 million to help with inflation last July, then $15.5 million for enrolment growth last fall.