REGINA — The Regina Catholic School Division approved its 2017/18 budget at a special June 19 public meeting. Chair of the board Donna Ziegler said it’s been a tough year with funding cuts from the provincial government, but the board managed to achieve a balanced budget of almost $113 million while maintaining and even increasing its teaching staff.
“I want to thank board members and the administration for their hard work over the last several weeks. It’s been a very challenging year for all of us. I’m pleased that the board came to a decision in regard to how to fund the additional 370 students we’re going to get next year and the three additional schools, and we did that by making some cuts in other areas,” said Ziegler.
“We started with a $1.5 million deficit and we knew that we had to come up with $1.7 million to allow the schools to open next year. So, as a board, we reviewed the budget in its entirety and looked at ways we could be more efficient; we looked at ways we could move some of the specialized instruction staff back into the classroom. We focused on our education sector plan and we focused on keeping the support in the classroom,” she told the Prairie Messenger.
Chief financial officer Curt Van Parys gave a final brief review before the board approved the budget. In an interview with the PM, Van Parys said the division wasn’t hit quite as hard as some other divisions in the April 22 provincial budget, but still had a shortfall of about $1.5 million. “We achieved a balanced budget by shifting some resources to make sure our classrooms were protected.”
Director of education Dominic Scuglia also acknowledged a difficult process. “It was a difficult budget and when we looked at our central staff, we had to make some difficult decisions. By reducing the central staff, it allowed us to keep important support in the classroom. When we got down to the bottom line there were some additional funds made available that we were able to put back to supporting kids in the classroom. We heard loud and clear over the course of the last school year that we needed additional support for students with mental health issues, and the provincial auditor told us we needed to add support for our newcomer students in English as a Second Language. We are also investing more money in supporting our First Nations, Métis and Inuit students by adding some additional funds to programming there.”