Beck: Education Budget smokescreen hides cut to classrooms

REGINA - New Democratic Party Education Critic Carla Beck criticized the government for fudging the budget numbers and hiding what amounts to a cut to the classroom in Budget 2021.

“Saskatchewan classrooms were overcrowded and under-funded before COVID-19 and the Sask. Party’s failure to contain the pandemic when they had the chance has put our kids in an even tougher spot,” said Beck. “That the Sask. Party government would choose this year - of all years - to cut funding to our classrooms is a shocking betrayal of Saskatchewan kids, families and educators.”

In yesterday’s Education Budget release, the government states: “Saskatchewan's 27 school divisions will receive $1.96 billion in school operating funding for the 2021-22 school year, an increase of $19.2 million.  This includes fully funding the 2.0 per cent salary increase as part of the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Agreement”.

What the government fails to acknowledge is that the fairly bargained commitment to teachers amounts to $23 million. Meaning that in actuality the school operating funding for 2021-22 cuts funding by $3.8 million. In a release in response to the provincial budget yesterday, the Saskatchewan School Boards Association states: “It’s important to note though that other inflationary costs are not covered in the increase and therefore school divisions may have difficult decisions to make.”

“This kind of smokescreen by the government and the Minister of Education does a disservice to the school communities and teachers who have worked so hard this past year to give our kids the best education possible in trying times,” said Beck. “The government must immediately reverse this decision and institute a true funding increase, over and above the new contract that the government had to be dragged into signing.”

-30-