Saskatchewan’s Catholic school boards are banding together to raise money for their legal battle to preserve government funding for non-Catholic students in their school system.
The Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association (SCSBA) is hoping its combined eight member boards can fundraise $250,000 to cover a federal appeal and potential supreme court case – each priced at $125,000 for legal services.
“Budgets are tight and there’s not a lot of money,” SCBA president Paula Scott said. “As Education Minister Don Morgan has indicated … he doesn’t like funding boards suing other boards.”
The legal battle stems from an April decision by Justice Donald Layh, which ruled public funding of non-Catholic students in the Catholic school system was unconstitutional.
He made the ruling after Christ the Teacher School Division (CTSD) in Theodore, Sask. was sued by the localpublic board after a shuttered public school was re-opened by CTSD – taking students, and funding, away from the public board.
The provincial government has joined the appeal process with the Catholic boards.
It invoked the notwithstanding clause to opt out of the part of the constitution the ruling stated the province had violated.
“It’s incredibly important to us, our parents and especially our students,” Scott said, noting many would have to switch schools if the notwithstanding clause ever expired. “It’d have a significant impact on them.”
Scott said they chose to fundraise the money to prevent budget cuts to the classroom, as all Catholic boards are already facing funding slashes stemming from the provincial budget.
Over the next few months, the boards will approach potential donors over ranging from parents to members of local parishes.
Scott said there’s no timeframe for when the fundraiser will be completed.