In the next few weeks, School Boards across our province, mainly the rural school divisions, will be deciding if any schools on the review list will be come off of the list or be slated for CLOSURE. Final decisions will not be made until May.
Almost every school division in the province lost enrolment last year. Rural school boards are between a rock and a hard place with an annual cut to the K-12 operating grant and enrolment loss to maintain all the schools in their respective divisions under the current funding process.
The Government is slashing K-12 operating grants for rural divisions with enrolment loss while at the same time increasing the K-12 operating grant for Regina and Saskatoon School Divisions with enrolment loss. Is this fair and equitable?
My division, Prairie South School Division (PSSD), lost 386 students and had its K-12 operating grant cut $2.93 million dollars, or $7,600 per student lost. Chinook and SE Cornerstone School Divisions average losses per student were much higher. These two school divisions border PSSD on the west and east and cover the southern portion of the province.
The 2006-07 K-12 operating grant increased provincially by $18,529,006 from the previous year. Regina and Saskatoon School Divisions received every dollar of it plus more! Combined, the four school divisions lost 1362 students but their operating grant increased \$18,694,097 on average, a \$13,725-gain per student lost. Regina has an average $18,009 gain per student lost and Saskatoon has an average \$10,770 gain per student lost. Is this fair and equitable?
Funding education on property taxes was fair back in 1931 or 1941, but not in 2007! Again looking in the PSSD, the tax payers pay 57 per cent of the total cost for the entire school division. Now break it down between the schools in Moose Jaw and all the other schools in the rural and small urban municipalities and you see that the urban schools are funded 67 per cent from government funds and 33 per cent assessment tax revenue and the rural area schools are funded 16 per cent from government and 84 per cent by assessment tax revenue. These are total division costs this year less the deficit.
For every dollar raised by an increase in the mill rate in Prairie South School Division, 71 cents will come from the rural assessment and 29 cents from the urban assessment. The Prairie South School Division had its provincial K-12 operating grant slashed again this budget year by \$2.93 million dollars. The loss of these funds actually comes from the cost of operating the Moose Jaw schools within the school division. In order to keep funding levels consistent in the city schools, the school board may be forced to close five schools in the rural area and one in Moose Jaw and still raise several millions of dollars to eliminate their deficit. Savings in school closures will be around one third of the \$5.7 million deficit so the rural will fund 71 per cent and urban will fund 29 per cent of somewhere around \$3.75 million. These are the facts! It all goes back to funding education from assessment on property. Is this fair and equitable?