Education has been a contentious issue even during the election campaign for the leader of the Saskatchewan Party. So there was little doubt that many people were watching and waiting to see what would be unveiled for the school divisions across the province.
"We were encouraged to see that the government is starting to restore some of the funding that's been cut from education," shared Shelley Toth, Chief Financial Officer for the Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division. "But somewhat disappointing as well because I don't know that it's going to be enough to balance the budget for next year."
The school divisions in the province will receive $1,87 billion for the 2018/19 school year. This is an increase of $30 million, a 1.6% increase from last year. The funds are expected to go towards hiring approximately 400 teachers and support staff.
"We had a decrease of 3% last year and a decrease of 2.1% the year before and we had a deficit for our 2016/17 school year and we budgeted a deficit for this year. Given that we weren't successful with those prior year cuts in balancing our budget, I don't know if that increase is going to be enough to balance the budget."
"Having said that, we don't know yet. We're in the process of building it and it will be reviewed by the senior leadership team and our board as well. And the board will have to approve the budget at their June 20th meeting in order to meet the June 30th deadline for the province."
Toth added that it is too early to guess how much that shortfall might be.
"At this point, I don't have an idea. We're still working on our staffing budget which is a significant portion of our budget. 73% of our costs are salaries and benefits so until I have that number, I can't begin to guess how short we are."
She did note that restriction on how funds are used have been lifted.
"Last year, the Ministry weighed in a little bit and decided that they were going to place restrictions on how much could be spent on governance and how much could be spent on board member PD (professional development) and that a minimum amount had to be spent on minor renovations. They've retracted all those restrictions this year so it gives each school division the ability to spend in areas that they feel are needed for funding."
The province is also committing $49.6 million for preventative maintenance, renewal and emergency funding which is a 14.8% increase from last year.
"That's a separate calculation outside of the operating funding that we received. The Ministry has been fabulous at increasing that money every year and there are parameters around how that money has to be spent. It's looking after your buildings, it's your roof replacements, your heating and ventilation systems, general repairs and maintenance and that sort of thing. So we are very appreciate of that funding."