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Chinook receives provincial budget for 2022-23 school year

Posted on March 29, 2022 by Maple Creek

On March 23, the 2022-2023 provincial budget was announced in the legislature with a 1.5% increase in operating funds for Education. As a result, the Chinook Board of Education will face one of its greatest challenges in developing the budget for the upcoming school year.
The division’s recognized grant of $77.91M is approximately $563,000 more than the previous year, resulting in an approximate 0.7% increase in total budget for Chinook. This will not come close to offsetting the anticipated increase in inflationary costs in 2022-2023 and will result in an ever increasing funding shortfall for the division.
“We appreciate the recent funding of $39,000 for the increase in substitute teacher and staff costs to help offset some additional pandemic related expenses for this year. The added conditional funding for 2022-23 will also support the hiring of a few extra educational assistants in our classrooms and we hope this funding will continue beyond the initial year,” said Board Chair, Kim Pridmore.
In planning for the next school year, Chinook is starting from a $4.2 million dollar deficit. The projected inflationary costs for the upcoming year will add another $1.5 million and will force the division to use reserves once again.
Pridmore added, “We need sufficient resources to pay our expenses and this is not a good long-term solution. We have found further efficiencies over the years; however these have been eaten up by our rising inflationary costs, leaving our Board with limited options to make further reductions. Our reserves will run out very soon, so we will unfortunately need to make decisions that will affect every community in our division.”
Rural school divisions including Chinook have higher fixed costs. The application of the funding formula is weighted toward a high variable cost school division, which is not equitable for all divisions.
In addition, Chinook was also faced with provincial budget reductions of around $5 million five years ago.
“We had to find efficiencies and significantly reduce costs, while making every effort to minimize the impact on classrooms,” said Director of Education, Mark Benesh.
“Chinook is fully committed to supporting student success and continuing our focus on mental health and well-being. However, our present deficit comes mainly from two areas: transportation and staffing, and in each of these areas we are projecting a $2 million dollar shortfall. With the province only providing funding for one third of next year’s projected inflationary costs, $1 million additional dollars will put our projected deficit at over $5 million. The Board now has to consider reductions in areas that they have worked very hard to avoid over the last seven years.”
This year, as part of Chinook’s learning response plan, additional supports were identified and implemented in classrooms across the division. As the Board works to finalize their budget for 2022-23, they will continue to align the Division strategic plan with the interim Provincial Education Plan developed by the Ministry of Education.

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