The Regina Public School Board is surveying parents and teachers to see what they think about changing the universal noon-hour supervision program to cut costs.
Mike Walter is director of school services for the division. He says costs have more than doubled since the program was introduced in 2008.
“According to our calculations, we spend approximately $1.3 million to provide supervision to all Grade 1 to 8 students during the lunch hour,” he said.
Walter says the biggest reason for the cost increase is that more students are staying for lunch because their parents don’t have to pay for it. Enrolment has also increased overall by 15 per cent in the same time period. Most noon-hour supervisors are teachers and the hourly rate they are paid to do that job has also increased after contract negotiations with the union.
The division maintains some cost-cutting measures are necessary due to budget challenges. Walter says they need to find an extra $6 million to maintain the status quo for class sizes and other academic programs.
“We really want to keep an open mind for this and we’re looking at all different potential solutions,” he said. “One mentioned in the survey was would you pay a dollar more?”
He says the survey is meant to generate feedback from parents and the school community to find creative solutions to cut costs for noon-hour supervision.
Prior to 2008, many schools in Regina required students to pay a dollar per noon hour if they wanted to stay at school for lunch. Walter explained that bus students are the exception and would still be allowed to stay at no charge because they don’t have the option of walking home.
Outside Arcola School on Thursday, a few parents were surprised to hear about the survey.
“The kids go to school, the teachers are there, why would they have to pay for it? It should be included with the school,” said Audrey Rupps as she picked up her kids from school.
She also questioned why it would cost $1.3 million to pay for noon-hour supervision. She conceded that paying $1 wouldn’t be too bad, but she still doesn’t like the idea.
Tamsin O’Neill was not happy with the proposal of paying for lunch supervision either.
“I’m sorry, but that’s so terrible. I don’t agree with that at all,” she commented.
O’Neill says they only moved here three years ago and she didn’t know that’s how it used to work.
“No I don’t think they should make parents pay.”
Murelle Davis says she wouldn’t want to pay extra for her daughter to stay for lunch either.
“Teachers get paid a good amount of money, so you’re there anyways having lunch, so what’s the big deal for a teacher to look after or supervise kids, you’re there having lunch anyways,” she said. “I don’t understand that.”