With a focus on maintaining class sizes and addressing students' needs, the Saskatoon Board of Education passed its budget for the 2020-21 academic year at its meeting held June 16. The budget includes expenses of $278.3 million, an increase of $6.6 million over last year.
Provincial government funding increased 3.7 per cent ($8.3 million or $85/student) for the year but this amount does not allow the school division to address projected enrolment growth and inflation for operating costs. The board will draw $2 million from operating reserves to help address the $4.2-million funding shortfall.
"While we faced a serious disruption to student learning this year, our overall enrollment and the number of students with special and complex needs both continued to grow without pause," said Board Chair Colleen MacPherson. "This budget maintains our focus on the classroom and supports for students, but our division's growing demands are far outpacing provincial funding. Our board will continue to lobby for the resources our students need to be successful."
The budget includes several staff additions to address enrolment growth and student needs, including:
- 29 FTE (full-time equivalent) teaching positions;
- 40 FTE educational assistant positions;
- 2 FTE caretaking staff positions;
- 1 FTE secretary position;
- 1 FTE electronics repair technician position; and,
- 1 FTE cafeteria worker position.
The budget will support the division's strategic plan, which will enter its second year. The increase of 29 teacher positions will allow class size ratios to remain at the same levels as in previous years. The hiring of 40 additional educational assistants represents a 10 per cent increase of staff in the position and reflects the need to support our most vulnerable learners.
In addition to the draw on reserves, the budget includes the following reductions to address the shortfall:
- 5 FTE teachers from discretionary staffing positions;
- 5 FTE English as an Additional Language teachers (3.5 FTE from elementary, 1.5 FTE from secondary);
- 1.8 FTE positions from Central Office;
- Non-salary budgets across the division have been reduced, including school budgets by 10 per cent; and,
- Facilities operating budget lines have been reduced.
There will be no layoffs as a result of the reductions; all impacted staff will be reassigned.