(11 December 2012)
Additional Education Funding
One aspect of the phenomenal growth our communities have seen in recent years that has become apparent is unprecedented pressures on our local schools. Over 100 new students enter our school system in both Warman and Martensville every year. This is leading to both space and funding issues for our schools.
Back when our population was either relatively flat or even shrinking, lower birth rates meant dwindling enrollment figures in most areas of the province, even in Saskatoon. The province would provide funding at the beginning of the year based on initial enrollments. Most of the time, this arrangement worked in the best interests of school divisions if their enrollment numbers would fall during the year.
It’s become apparent that this model is no longer working. With more and more children enrolling in our schools throughout the year, schools have found themselves falling behind because they have more kids than their initial enrollment figures had projected. Education Minister Russ Marchuk announced last week that school divisions showing large increases in enrollment would receive mid-year funding adjustments that would recognize the needs of those additional students. The Prairie Spirit School Division will receive an extra $659,600 this year to help ease the pressures of these growing enrollment figures.
In addition, the province will streamline the production of relocatable classrooms. Traditionally, these classrooms have not been ready until January even though the space is required at the beginning of the school year. We will be speeding up the process for building and installing these classrooms so they will be ready for September.
These portable classrooms are not intended to be the permanent solution for the large numbers of students at our schools in Warman and Martensville. The new middle-years school in Warman is under construction and should be ready to open its doors in September 2013. This school will accommodate 700 children. Additionally, plans are underway to double the size of the Martensville High School, which will alleviate the pressures on the two elementary schools by moving some of the older grades to the high school. Requests have also been made to the government for another elementary school in Warman, one in Martensville, and also for a Catholic elementary school in Martensville. Those requests are before the government and will be considered as part of the education capital budget.
Support for education under this Saskatchewan Party government is unprecedented. In 2012-13, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide $1.73 billion in funding to Saskatchewan school divisions. This includes $1.13 billion in government operating grants, which represents an increase of 62 per cent since 2007-08. While government grants have increased, education property tax has decreased by 18 per cent during that same period. This aligns with the government’s commitment in 2009 to provide the largest reduction in the education portion of property taxes in Saskatchewan history. To see how individual funding figures for each school division have increased over the last five years, go to www.education.gov.sk.ca/ed-funding-specific-sd.
Past MLA Reports