There are 485 more students in public elementary schools in Regina compared to last year, but the division will have to make do with funding based on enrolment numbers for last year.
Mike Walter is the deputy director of school services for the Regina Public School division. He says enrolment has been steadily increasing by about 500 students per year in the past few years. There were 600 more students enrolled in kindergarten to Grade 8 while high school enrolment dropped slightly.
The provincial government increased the education budget by 14 per cent this year, but also changed the funding model.
“They base it on last year’s enrolment,” Walter explained. “So for school divisions who are seeing an increase in enrolment like we are, it’s a challenge because you’re not receiving any more funding in recognition of those extra students, in our case 485 students.”
According to budget calculations from this spring, Walter says the division needs to find an extra $6 million dollars somewhere else to maintain class sizes, and that means cut backs.
“We’ve had some challenges in terms of looking at non-teaching staff,” he said. “We wanted to maintain class size at all costs. So therefore we looked at programming. We looked at positions that did not necessarily impact on the class sizes teachers were seeing.”
The division has cut one superintendent position and eight full-time classroom consultant positions. Walter says some cuts were managed through attrition and no employees actually lost jobs.
“Rather than being full-time consultants, they’re actually half-time consultants and half-time teachers, so they sort of have one foot in the classroom and one foot in the consultant role,” Walter explained.
The division is also proposing several other cost-cutting measures like changing the universal noon-hour supervision program to have non-bus students pay a dollar a day if they want to stay.
Walter says these cuts will not impact academic programming.