Mid-year funding for schools desperately needed: NDP

English as an Additional Language program funding cut this year

The NDP says it wants a mid-year funding adjustment for schools immediately, including resources for English as an Additional Language (EAL) programs.

That call comes as the director of education for the Regina Public School Board pointed to upwards of 900 new EAL students entering classrooms, including 165 refugee students from Syria; but still only 38 EAL teachers for the whole division.

The Sask. Party’s March budget cut spending on EAL programming to $420,000, from $588,000 the year before. The Sask. Party also scrapped the mid-year adjustment used to fund new arrivals in Saskatchewan schools, cutting millions of needed dollars from school boards. School boards are cash-strapped and being forced to make tough choices.

“The situation in classrooms all over the province is becoming unreasonable,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “The cuts and short-changing of education by the Sask. Party government has real consequences. There aren’t enough teachers. There aren’t enough classrooms. There aren’t enough educational assistants. When you have 35 students in a class, and just one teacher, that teacher is constantly juggling between giving attention to the students with additional needs, dealing with behavioral issues, making progress with students ready to move on to the next lesson and so much more. It’s unfair to literally everyone in that classroom.

“And failing to help new students from other countries learn English, integrate and thrive in Saskatchewan – that means we’re failing those young people, but also failing Saskatchewan’s future, because we expect these young people to stay, work, raise their families here and help build Saskatchewan.”

Wotherspoon said the Sask. Party has to stop ignoring the needs of Saskatchewan students.

“Students are obviously not the Sask. Party’s priority,” said Wotherspoon. “At a time when classrooms are growing, we’re seeing cuts to teachers, to educational assistants and to schools staff. The Sask. Party is actually taking out their budget mess on vulnerable children – and that’s disgusting.

“Of course, the Sask. Party has been looking to hire Lean consultants for schools and classrooms – an unbelievably misplaced priority. The fact is, they asked schools to do more with less even when times were good in Saskatchewan, and parents and teachers are extremely worried about what will be cut next now that times are tight.”