Sask. government giving school boards 1-time $20M bump to help with inflation

·2 min read
Education Minister Dustin Duncan said he hopes the new money will be used to help students in the classroom, not put into reserves.  (Matt Duguid/CBC - image credit)
Education Minister Dustin Duncan said he hopes the new money will be used to help students in the classroom, not put into reserves. (Matt Duguid/CBC - image credit)

The Saskatchewan government is giving school boards across the province a one-time $20-million cash injection to help with rising fuel and insurance costs during the upcoming school year.

The province has come under fire in recent months for its education budgeting. Four Saskatchewan school divisions announced they were slashing a combined total of nearly 100 jobs due to budget shortfalls.

A handful of Saskatchewan school divisions, including Saskatoon's public and Catholic systems, have also announced they would start charging parents for lunchroom supervision to help deal with the shortfalls.

It's unclear at this point if the one-time cash injection will stave off any of those new fees or prevent any of the pending job cuts.

Derrick Kunz, a spokesperson for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, said that although the money needs to be spent in a specific way, it does relieve pressure in other areas.

"Generally speaking, any additional funds are welcome. But the money does fall short of what we would need to continue the good work that we're doing from last year," said Kunz. "Our administration and our school board are going to have to look at the best ways that the money can be spent."

Education Minister Dustin Duncan said he hopes the new money will be used to help students in the classroom, not put into reserves.

"We are committed to ensuring every Saskatchewan student and teacher has the supports needed to achieve success in the classroom," Duncan said in a news release.

"Now that school board budgets have been submitted, we have weighed the impact of fuel and insurance costs on their operations and are in a position to provide further assistance."

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Opposition NDP leader Carla Beck said she wants the province to commit to long-term education funding.

"The funding announced today is a drop in the bucket that only covers the shortfalls of six out of 27 school divisions," said Beck.

Saskatchewan's NDP Opposition had previously called the provincial government to provide $50 million in "emergency" funding to school divisions before budgets are finalized. Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation president Patrick Maze has previously said the staffing cuts are "unacceptable."

Premier Moe has criticized school divisions' plans to charge parents for lunchtime supervision, saying schools should instead draw from their "ample reserves."

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