‘St. Paul, pray for us’: Saskatoon Catholic school division warns of financial shortfall

In a letter to parents and caregivers, Saskatoon’s Catholic school board is warning of a challenging road ahead as it copes with financial pressures.

The letter comes in the wake of the 2022-23 provincial budget which included a $24.9 increase in operational funding for school divisions. The Saskatchewan government plans to spend a total of $1.99 billion on school operating costs.

“Most of that ($23.4 million) is earmarked for provincially negotiated salary increases in the sector,” says the letter, signed by board chair Diane Boyko and Greg Chatlain, director of education at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

“It leaves $6 million as the increase for all other expenses. For Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, that will be an estimated $660,000 more,” the letter says.

The letter outlines how “dramatic inflationary increases” affecting the cost of utilities, fuel and insurance will eat up a combined $811,000 alone.

The letter also says an anticipated influx of 400 new students and the federal carbon tax are expected to drive up costs.

“These increases to costs are projected to far exceed the increase in revenue from the province,” the letter says.

“Preliminary estimates indicate the division will be over $2 million short if we want to maintain our current level of service to students. This is disheartening, to say the least.”

The letter says the school division plans on “realigning resources and reassigning staff in an attempt to maintain service levels.”

It says the process will be similar to steps taken five years ago in response to budget cuts.

“However, that significant realignment years ago makes it very challenging to repeat it for the 2022-23 school year,” the letter says.

“The butter can only be spread so thin on the bread.”

Senior administration plans to submit the school division’s budget for approval in June.

“God bless. St Paul, pray for us,” the letter ends.

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