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Increase in Sask. education budget to serve higher enrolment

Saskatchewan’s increase in education spending will likely serve a growing enrolment in Lloydminster school districts. The province’s budget announcement will put $1.9 billion in operating funding for Saskatchewan school divisions in the 2019-2020 school year.

It’s an increase of more than $26 million year over year. It’s objectively the largest education budget in provincial history. Some of that money will go towards settling a collective agreement to raise the salaries of teaching staff next year. Lloydminster Public School Division’s CFO, Matt Read, says part of that budget increase is also targeting an increase in Saskatchewan enrolment.

“A slight enrolment increase is what we’re projecting for next year. All the pieces have to fit inside the puzzle the right way to make it come out in the end, and for us, on the Saskatchewan side there’s a slight increase,” says Read.

LPSD received a little under half of its funding from the Saskatchewan government. The increase in funding works out to be just less than $900,000 in funding to account for these factors, plus higher enrolment of 1%. For LPSD, that works out similarly to an increase of just less than 4,400 to around 4,462. The division’s budget won’t be worked out until just before summer, but how it’ll look depends on the election.

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“We’re happy for the increase in funding, we’re happy that the government’s recognizing the cost related to the increase in teaching wages, and putting back some of the money that was pulled out a couple of years ago. But in our context, there’s still a big piece of the pie that’s left to come in before we can know the true impact of the budget.”

The budget for the Lloydminster Catholic School Division is also faced with similar enrolment growth. It takes in around 250 new students per year and graduates close to 180. Director of Education for LCSD, Nigel McCarthy, says that this figure varies year to year but this means there’s a natural growth to factor the funding increase accounts for.

“It allows us to serve a growing population of students. We’re well aware that Lloydminster is growing in terms of the young people that are in the city. There’s lots of children, particularly kindergarten to grade seven level, so we’re excited to see how we might be able to serve them even better moving forward,” says McCarthy.

Both school divisions receive funding based on the provincial residency of their students. The outcome of Alberta’s provincial election will give each division a better understanding for the upcoming school year’s budget.

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