NDP concerned about funding to support kids with complex needs

Parents of those on the autism spectrum were at the Legislature raising the issue of a lack of funding to support students with complex needs.

Opposition Education Critic Matt Love raised the issue at a news conference Wednesday alongside two parents of kids with autism. One of those, B-j Diduck, has three kids with autism and one of them attends John Dolan School. She told reporters that John Dolan has 60 students ages. 5-21, as well as 11 teachers including their principal and 53 EAs.

“Although we have all had wonderful teachers and EAs try to educate our students in the past, they simply don’t have the resources and training to support the complex needs of our students” Diduck said. “Neither does John Dolan as they ran an approximately $2.3 million shortfall last year.“

Another parent, Katie Emde from Midale, told reporters that her son was unable to attend school for months due to a lack of supports and resources within his classroom and school. She blames it on a lack of funding from government.

“The government has not properly funded our education system. And it has trickled down into not only our school, but also across the province, to the point where my oldest son Avery, who is 13 years old, is unable to attend school. He is unable to attend school and be safe and well educated… how sad is that to have a child who has a right to get an education not get one, not get the support that they need to thrive.

“B-j and Katie speak for thousands of parents across Saskatchewan,” said Love. “Thousands of parents affected by SaskParty cuts to per student funding.”

When questioned by the NDP on the issue in Question Period, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill pointed to increased classroom supports funding in the budget:

“… Just first on the previous question, I had the opportunity myself to tour John Dolan School earlier this year and to see the incredible work that Saskatoon Public Schools is doing at that specific school, in that specific school community, for many of the most vulnerable kids in our province, Mr. Speaker.

“But when it comes to supporting kids all across the province, Mr. Speaker, the Premier referenced a 9 per cent increase in educational operational funding across all 27 school divisions. But when it comes to classroom supports funding, that budget has increased 14 per cent this year, Mr. Speaker.

“We know there’s more work to continue doing, Mr. Speaker. That’s why we’ve signed a multi-year funding agreement with the 27 school divisions so that we can continue having these important discussions on how we support students in all corners of the province.”

More from 620 CKRM