The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) weighed in on the provincial budget on Wednesday. In spite of increased spending laid out in the government’s fiscal plan, the organization says it’s not enough, and the upshot may be cuts for school boards.
A statement released following the tabling of the budget says the STF “is baffled by the government’s disregard for students.”
“Government either doesn’t understand the issues or doesn’t think they are important,” says STF President Samantha Becotte. “I hear from parents and teachers every day. There is a serious concern for student well-being because school divisions simply don’t have enough funding to meet students’ needs. These decisions have a critical, lasting impact on the future of our province.”
The operational increase of 2.5 percent will not keep pace with rising costs, and that means further cuts to services and supports for children, the Federation says. It maintains a minimum of 5 percent was required to maintain last year’s funding levels given those rising costs.
The release cited stats that rated 2012-2013 education funding rated as first in the country, but those indicators showed by 2019-20, the province’s comparative funding had fallen to sixth nationally. The Federation claims are class sizes and undersized staffs based on chronic underfunding are creating and environment are meeting the growing and diverse needs of students.”
“Teachers are doing everything they possibly can to support a growing number of students in an underfunded system,” says Becotte. “Once again, this government is choosing to shortchange kids and families. Saskatchewan is in a strong financial position. Government has the money to invest in education. It is simply refusing to make students a priority.”
The release also noted that recent polling tallied two-thirds of Saskatchewan residents, based on respondents, believe increased educational funding is necessary.
“This budget continues the Saskatchewan Party trend of eroding the quality of public education in our province,” says Becotte. “I want to thank everyone who has shared their concerns and asked for more funding for public education. Government’s actions show they still aren’t listening, but it isn’t too late. A crisis can still be avoided if we start reversing years of cuts and start investing in our future.”