The 2017-18 budget for the Regina Catholic School Division (RCS) passed but not without an inspection with a fine tooth comb.
Board chair Donna Ziegler said they’ve taken a long hard look at the numbers and have worked with administration to come up with a balanced budget.
“We’ve met several times, we’ve gone through the entire budget, we’ve met with stakeholders, we’ve listened to what’s happening in our schools,” Ziegler said. “We know that we needed additional EAL (English as an additional language) support along with support for mental health and wellbeing, we knew we needed those teachers and we needed education support to help with that growth enrollment.”
Ziegler said the board has been in meetings since March 22.
She said they needed $1.7 million dollars to open the schools next year, but with the budget shortfall, they only received $1.5 million.
Changes in next year’s budget include a reduction of centralized instructors by seven full-time-equivalent positions. RCS eliminated two unfunded pre-kindergarten programs that will transition into other schools, along with phasing out the sunshine program.
They’ve also increased teaching responsibilities for department heads or learning leaders.
In all, Ziegler said they tried their best to make sure that parents, students and staff won’t see much of a change in the classrooms.
“I think we’ve tried to look at every area so no one area is going to be significantly reduced,” she said. “We’ve tried to ensure that we are trying to not touch what happens in the classroom, however, every decision we make ultimately is for teaching and learning children in the classroom.”
Ziegler added they did keep 16.9 new full-time-equivalent teaching positions for the three new schools set to open. RCS is projecting 370 new students for the three schools.
“We’re not sure what next year holds but I’m not sure if it’ll be the same or even less next year,” she said. “It’s disappointing when you’re opening three new schools and you have 370 more students to be looking at the deficit budget.”