The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) is warning that cuts could be headed for the classroom.
Rising inflation and not enough education funding in this year’s provincial budget could mean tough times ahead.
With more than three thousand additional students in classrooms last year, and more expected for next year, the STF is concerned about the pressures of inflation to an already cash-strapped education system.
“We know that we’re going to have more students in our classes,” said STF president Samantha Becotte. “And we know that inflation is going to increase the cost of operating our school buildings, and so there really isn’t any increase to adjust our funding for that. And we know school divisions are going to have to cut services because of that.”
While he says figures in the provincial budget released last month are just estimates, Premier Scott Moe says the overall education budget has increased by 6.7 per cent from last year.
“We’ll look again, ultimately this fall,” said Moe. “But with a 6.7 per cent global increase to the education budget, we think we’re well positioned to go into the spring and summer and have a good foundation for the decisions we know need to be made at the division level.”
The STF says while the overall budget went up by 6.7 per cent, the operational side of education funding is only seeing a 2.5 per cent increase.
Becotte says for the last ten years, per-capita spending has decreased from the highest funding per student in the country to eighth.
“Back about a decade ago, we were number one in the country compared to the other provinces, and that has dropped to where we are now, just under $11,000 per student,” she said. “And so that per-student funding has dropped over $3,000. And that’s even adjusting for those inflationary costs. So if you think about what inflation has been over the last decade, really we should be seeing an increase to that per-student funding.”
In the last decade, an increase of around 27,000 students has met with an increase of just 325 teachers, says Becotte.
“Those numbers just don’t add up,” Becotte told CTV News. “You can imagine having a class of 90, and while it’s not that, it’s spread across the entire system. It still means class sizes are going up. So whether students have additional needs or they’re just a student, they need their teacher’s time.”
Becotte says a rally in support of public education funding is planned for April 29th from 12 to 1 pm at the Saskatchewan Legislature.