NDP wants school funding fix before kids go back in the fall

Band programs latest victim of Sask. Party’s short funding of students

The Opposition wants the funding for school boards repaired before the school year starts.

The NDP also says the government was wrong to cut the mid-year adjustment that funded enrolment growth, and wants money set aside for that.

“The Sask. Party has had record revenues and has been spending all of it as fast as it comes in, and then some. But, where has all the money gone? School boards and kids sure aren’t benefiting – and this government isn’t making them the priority they should be,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and Education critic.

“School boards are being forced to make painful spending decisions. That means the classes are getting more and more crowded. There are already too few educational assistants, after the government slashed their numbers, and one-on-one attention is often not there when kids need it. And, in the case of Prairie Spirit School Division, they’ve been forced to eliminate the band program – and the Sask. Party should be absolutely ashamed of that.”

Prairie Spirit, a growing division near Saskatoon, has repeatedly expressed concerns about the funding shortfall – concerns Wotherspoon said he’s heard from other parts of the province, too. It’s a matter of priorities, he said.

“Does this government actually need to spend $120 million a year on private consultants? Does it need to spend millions to introduce the Lean fiasco we know from health care into schools? Or, could it use those millions to add some teachers, hire more educational assistants and give kids the band programs they deserve? That’s the approach I want.”

Among NDP Leader Cam Broten’s proposals for education is a cap on class sizes based on class composition, starting with early years; reinstating the role and ratio of educational assistants; and scrapping the more expensive P3 rent-a-school scheme that’s delaying the building of overdue schools. Those and more plans were laid out in an opposition bill during the spring session of the legislature, but the government refused to debate the bill, or vote on it.‎