The Regina Public School Board passed a consensus “tough” budget for the 2017-18 school year at its Tuesday evening meeting.
The board will borrow just over $1 million from reserve funds and cut some staff and programs due to a $9.5-million funding shortfall after the provincial budget.
That includes changes that were announced in April: the closure of Discovery and Communication preschools for special-needs children; the introduction of all-day kindergarten; and the implementation of transportation zones that will disqualify from bus service 1,100 students who currently take the bus.
The division will cut 22.05 full-time-equivalent classroom teachers and increase teachers’ time with students. There is an overall increase of 0.48 to the pupil-teacher ratio.
“We tried really hard to keep as many staff positions as possible in front of students,” said director of education Greg Enion.
“We also tried our best just to reduce some of the services rather than totally eliminate them.”
The budget also includes: eliminating supplementary sporting programs, namely canoeing, curling and swimming; reducing professional development spending; and reducing decentralized school budgets by 2.5 per cent.
The board also must absorb inflationary pressures and the change to the PST.
The board is projecting 576 new students in the fall, which Enion views as good news even though it adds pressure to division resources. The division has just over 23,000 students at present.
“It’s always good news to grow. I think we’re excited about opening new schools and our numbers increasing. But in a budget where we have a significant shortfall, it is challenging, there’s no doubt. But it’s still a very positive thing,” said Enion.
In 2017-18, Regina Public School Division will see five new schools open, including three joint-use schools and the new Ecole Connaught and Scott Collegiate. It is also relocating its adult campus.
Its funding was impacted by government budget cuts, a change to the provincial education funding formula, and changes to education property tax collection.