The provincial budget isn't exactly overflowing for the Chinook School Division or any other school division in Saskatchewan.

That's the main issue that's on the mind of almost everyone at Chinook. In the last ten years, increases to the budget have been thinner and thinner, coming in this year at just half a percent increase from last year. The lack of funding increases has led to struggles in the classrooms for both teachers and students.

This has been no small pebble in the shoe of Mark Benesh, the director of education for the Chinook School Division. He notes that the budget 10 years ago was $90 million, whereas this year, it's only $79 million.

"We have the same number of students, so the dollars that our local residents were taxed and giving to the province or Chinook back 10 years ago, now is being taken and utilized in other ways," asserted Benesh. "Unfortunately, the increases over the last 10 years have not even come close to keeping up with inflation."

Kim Pridmore, the board chair for the Chinook School Division, says it wouldn't even need to be a monumental increase to fix two of the critical issues they face.

"We always seem to be underfunded in transportation and staffing," said Pridmore. "We estimate we're about $3 million underfunded in those two particular areas, being the biggest ones for sure."

The effects of not having the ability to fund staff can be seen in the students, who have been falling in test scores year by year.

"That would be a reflection of the budget, but also COVID does factor into that side of things as well," Pridmore offered.

Chinook has been waiting to see the government make a move in a more positive direction, mainly by recognizing inflation. To date, they feel that the provincial government has been turning a blind eye to the reality of inflation in education.

"Inflationary pressures are eating up any savings that any division can find, and anyone with capital projects on the go is really finding it hard to complete those projects," said Pridmore. "Because the cost of materials and labour keeps going up."

For now, they are being forced to wait and see if a change is going to come or if they will have to continue to tighten their belts and make do.

If anyone from the provincial government would like to reach out to Swift Current Online and offer their insights, they are encouraged to do so.