Education funding cannot be discussed without also discussing issues of education
governance and issues of fair taxation.
My presentation is not intended to deal with all of the fine points of the
discussion, but rather to point to the principles that members of the New Green
Alliance believe need to be enacted in Saskatchewan.
The process by which people in Saskatchewan influence educational decisions
varies between jurisdictions, and sometimes follows legislative and regulatory
procedures, and in others, simply follows local practice or discretionary procedures
of Boards of Education.
< Creation of new “School Councils” ...
The Green Party of Saskatchewan believes that some decisions about education
are best made at the provincial level, some at the level of a Board of Education,
others best made by a democratically-elected, school-level Council that addresses
issues particular to each school..
A Green Party of Saskatchewan government would mandate the creation of democratically-formed
Council for each Saskatchewan school that would have funding and authority
to make appropriate school-based decisions. Such Councils would have distinct
mandates and access to financial resources to carry out these mandates. Funds
would appropriately be handled through Board of Education accounting and
would not require any new administrative structures.
This would change School Council roles from advisory to decision-making roles
in those areas. The mechanisms for effective accountability of local school
Councils could be patterned, in part, on mechanisms now used for school-based
budget procedures used by some jurisdictions, with the difference being that
it would be a School Council making decisions rather than just a school-based
Funding Does Not Ensure Local Control ...
Local control of local education decisions is not assured by local property
taxation, which, to some degree is determined by a local school board but primarily
by provincial Department policies. Such local control is more effectively guaranteed
by legislative requirement to have effective and democratically selected school
councils that address local school issues.
The issue of local decision-making is quite separate from the issue of local-source
funding. If the two issues were linked we should have seen a corresponding
increase in local control of education decisions as the portion of local funding
rose over the past decade. This has not happened. The relationships still are
controlled by legislation and regulation.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan believes in decisions being made at the lowest
possible level, but this does not mean that the funding must come from local
The Green Party of Saskatchewan supports a significant shift away from property-based
taxation for education to a general revenue source.
for Education Lies with Whole Society ...
TheGreen Party of Saskatchewan also believes that the effective development
of our young citizens is a responsibility of the whole society, with different
of our community playing varying roles in that development. Saskatchewan
has long recognized that the education of our young citizens is a public
than a private responsibility, and correctly so. The role of our societal
interventions have been supportive of family / parental efforts in some areas,
and have taken
over primary responsibility in other areas. We have worked out patterns that
have met the needs of the larger society, of individual families, and of
children in a reasonably successful manner over the years.
Part of that pattern has used the mechanism of local funding for K-12 education
along with some provincial funding and provincial control of management of
the funding process. This has produced the current situation which this commission
The Green Party of Saskatchewan believes that the current shared situation
is not appropriate to our population demographics nor is it appropriate to
a system of fair taxation.
Funding Requires General Tax Reform ...
If we remove education funding from property taxation, as well as reduce
property taxes as the Green Party of Saskatchewan also proposes, we need
to reform other elements
of our taxation system. It is the conviction of the Green Party of Saskatchewan
that resource extraction industries and larger corporate entities are undertaxed,
while small property owners (most homes and farms included) are over taxed.
A simple shift from property taxes to income taxes will add some degree of
fairness to the system, but more is needed. A graduated system of revenue
taxation should replace the education portion of property taxes for businesses.
were done businesses would pay taxes that reflect the revenue they generate
from being part of the Saskatchewan economy, rather being based on than the
assessed value of land on which they are situated.
Another way of addressing taxation revenues from lands that have experienced
capital gains would be to tax the capital gain more effectively rather than
to tax “assessed values” annually when that assessment has little
or no bearing on income generated from that property.
Need For Reform in Resort Areas ...
The area represented in the Saskatchewan Rivers Constituency contains numerous
resort communities in which our present system of education funding is especially
Cottage or recreation property holdings are not revenue producers. Frequently
they are a second or third property that is being taxed for purposes of education
Although part-time cottage / resort residents are permitted and encouraged
to have a democratic voice in municipal matters by voting for municipal councillors
or reeves, they are forbidden to do so for school board members, even though
as much as 75% of their tax assessments goes to fund the local school district.
In Lakeland RM calculations show that the taxpayers of the RM send as much
as $70,000.00 per local student educated by Sask Rivers School Division, yet
most of the taxpayers have no right to vote in school elections.
Many cottage owners are people who have inherited a lake property or whose
life savings have been directed toward a place to enjoy retirement activities,
and whose incomes are fixed or limited. Rising taxation rates on these properties
threaten their capacity to hold on to a treasure they have worked for much
of their lives and which they hope to pass on to children or grandchildren.
People who express their outrage at the injustice of this system are not declaring
an unwillingness to pay their share of education costs. They are declaring
their outrage at a grossly unfair and unrepresentative system of taxation for
Once again, if we correctly declare that the children of this society, regardless
of where they live, are the concern and responsibility of the whole society,
it is incumbent on this society to create a system that asks all citizens to
participate in the support of their education in a fair fashion. People, in
general, are willing to be taxed locally for things that they determine locally
and from which they benefit locally. It is clear that the education of our
children does not fit those considerations, and therefore should not be funded
by local property taxation.
The Green Party of Saskatchewan and many Saskatchewan people know that a
property tax base for education funding is even less fair than is local funding
education, for health care or for a provincial highway system. We need a
system that is funded from general revenues derived from a significantly
system of personal and corporate taxation. Along with this taxation reform
we need to democratize the process of citizen control of education governance,
especially with the mandatory creation of School Councils that have proper
funding to realize appropriate local educational goals.
We have seen Saskatchewan communities taking innovative (and some would say
extreme) measures to maintain local control over their schools when centralized
decision-making was leaving them out. This too speaks loudly of the need for
real reforms of our system. The intrusive and insulting questioning that citizen
supporters of the Englefeld Separate School Division are being subjected to
by the Humboldt Rural School Division as regards their decision to support
a local school should be abhorrent to all of us. Yet, it is the predictable
outcome of our current system of centralized decision-making and local tax-based
funding for education.
In conclusion, I reaffirm the Green Party of Saskatchewan positions for the
creation of effective local School Councils, for the removal of education
a property tax base, and for a more sweeping reform of how our society collects
the revenues necessary to benefit all citizens.
Submitted by Gerald Regnitter
Box 289, Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan, S0J 0N0
Phone: (306) 982-3614 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Green PArty of Saskatchewan Platform 2003:
A Progressive Taxation System
A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government will reform Saskatchewan’s
taxation system so that it is more just and more effectively
supports the development
communities and sustainable, self-sufficient local economies.
These reforms would include:
- a reduction of regressive PST and property taxes, with a subsequent shift
of education funding to general provincial revenues.
- reduced taxes on environmentally “friendly” purchases
- the elimination of municipal business taxes,
- The establishment of a scaled (graduated) revenue tax that would apply
above a given threshold to replace the current municipal business tax system.
- a return to communities of a percentage of the PST as a “Community
Development Tax Return”, enabling municipal and community groups to
provide services to citizens according to locally determined needs and priorities.
- the implementation of a more progressive income tax system based on ability
- a minimum tax imposed on all profitable corporations,
- a luxury value-added tax,
- higher royalties applied to the extraction of natural resources to support
local communities, and a community based economy.
A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government will accept responsibility for
funding early childhood intervention and “pre-school programs” where
required, in addition to traditional responsibility for the K-12 education
A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government will ensure the implementation
of an “Ecological
Literacy” curriculum, which also has practical application components,
in all Saskatchewan schools.
A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government will mandate the democratic establishment
Councils” for each Saskatchewan school, these School Councils to
have the responsibility , along with adequate funds, to make appropriate
A Green Party of Saskatchewan Government will restore adequate public funding
to Saskatchewan's universities. The corporate sector's growing stranglehold
on universities shall
be eliminated. All qualified citizens of Saskatchewan are entitled to free
higher education as they are to health care and secondary education. For
all academically qualified residents, student tuition fees will be rapidly
and eventually eliminated for four years of education.
From the Founding Principles of the Green Party of Saskatchewan:
All citizens must be able to directly participate as equals in the environmental,
economic and political decisions that affect their lives.
We must return power and responsibility to individuals, communities and regions.
We must encourage the flourishing of regionally based culture, rather than
a dominant monoculture. We must have a decentralized democratic society with
our political, economic and social institutions locating power on the smallest
scale that is efficient and practical. We must reconcile the need for community
and regional self-determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation
in certain matters.