Parents in the Regina Catholic School Division are voicing concerns about the school board’s decision to phase out the Sunshine Program.
The program offers a learning environment for three to five-year-olds with intensive needs.
This upcoming school year, the division will be reducing the program before phasing it out. Currently, the program runs out of five centres, serving 80 children. This school year, it will be reduced to two centres, serving 32 children.
The decision to phase out the program stems from a $1.5 million deficit in the Regina Catholic School Division’s 2017-18 budget, as result of funding cuts from the provincial government.
“Really it’s twofold,” said Domenic Scuglia, the Director of Education for the Regina Catholic School Division. “One, it’s an unfunded program, so we don’t receive any grant monies for the program. And the second reason is, like every other school division in the province, we had very challenging decisions to make around budgeting and this was one of the places we looked to find an efficiency to balance our budget.”
In the wake of the provincial government’s $22 million in funding cutbacks, the Regina Catholic School Division will also be phasing out two pre-kindergarten programs and reducing seven positions, including one superintendent position. The funding cutbacks mean there will be approximately $471 less per student.
Allyson Cozine Minaker was planning on sending her three-year-old son to the program. He was diagnosed with autism four months ago.
“I don’t even know where to begin. In my own humble opinion, I feel the decision was a little short-sighted,” said Cozine Minaker.
Cozine Minaker says she’s now left with a lot of questions.
“He’s going to enter a regular kindergarten classroom in a few years, and what will that look like? What will it look like for pre-kindergarten, when he’s four next year, what will that look like?”