Horizon School Division facing $1.3 million in new expenses

EAST CENTRAL — While the Horizon School Division has received an extra $141,000 from the provincial budget to use as it sees fit, it needs around $1.3 million to pay for new expenses.

The extra costs include paying for teachers as they move up the salary grid, paying for teachers’ fees for the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board, the carbon tax and inflation.

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“On first read of it and listening to the education minister and finance minister, [the provincial budget] sounded really good,” said Jim Hack, the chair of Horizon’s board of education, “but you drill down and you’ll find it does not even cover our inflationary costs with what we have, so needless to say, we're a little disappointed.”

The division will also receive an extra $285,000 that can only been used for preventive maintenance.

Two years ago, in the 2017-18 school year, the province cut $54 million from its funding of school divisions. In 2018-19, $30 million was restored, while $26 million was restored in 2019-20.

Yet in the meantime, school divisions are facing extra costs that they didn’t have two years ago and school enrolments have increased in the major urban centres. While Horizon’s enrolment has remained steady, it is receiving less of a share of funding as more is being directed to the growing divisions.

“It's going to meet some very, very hard work and due diligence to try to get a balanced budget while having as little effect as you can on students,” Hack said.

The division’s board of education will have a special budget meeting at the end of April, where it will get a glimpse of a draft budget for the 2019-20 school year.

Marilyn Flaman, the division's superintendent of finance, said the board will have to decide what needs to be prioritized.

“They'll have to decide how they're able to meet those within the funding that's being provided,” she said. “There will be a lot of deliberation on where to invest dollars and how to get the best impact out of the resources that we have to best support our students with the needs that they have within the classroom.”

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