The 2024-2025 budget for provincial education was announced in March, and Chinook School Division has approved it with a positive outlook for the future of education in the Southwest. 

The budget across Saskatchewan has increased 8.8 per cent, with a 4.8 per cent increase in funding reaching the Southwest. The increase is expected to reduce Chinook’s projected deficit from $3.5-4 million to about $2-2.6 million. 

The Chinook School Division’s Director of Education, Mark Benesh, spoke on behalf of the organization. 

"The division was very happy with the budget; it was a great step forward in funding for education and Chinook specifically,” said Benesh. “The budget allowed for an investment in our schools in the division and in some operating budget areas that we've been subsidizing for a period of time. In general, it was a good investment in education, and a good first step to offset the years where none of the inflationary costs were covered.” 

Chinook has used this increase in budget to develop investments including additional teachers, educational assistants and counsellors. According to Benesh, one key deficit that will be eased is the fixed costs involved in transportation.

“We got about $800,000 for transportation, so that reduced our deficit in that area from $2 million to $1.2 million, so that was very appreciated,” Benesh expressed. “There are still some shortfalls related to that, but it has aided us in being able to support our classrooms and in areas like counseling and mental health.” 

Benesh also mentioned long-term projects such as the rebuilding of the Stewart Valley School and the electrical maintenance of the Swift Current Comprehensive High School as priorities with funding.