MVSD gets a bump in funding from province

Published on Tuesday, 06 February 2024 07:18

While there is still plenty of work to do to finalize Mountain View School Division’s 2024-25 operating budget, a big piece of the puzzle was revealed last week as part of the Province’s education funding announcement.

And while the funding plan contains a lot of information to digest, MVSD secretary-treasurer Lori Slepicka said the division will be working with more provincial resources than it had last year.

“We are receiving an increase of two per cent in our provincial funding, so that’s in a positive direction,” Slepicka said. “There was a huge decrease in our formula funding due to a decrease in student enrolment and now we’re on the formula guarantee, which is their promise to make sure that no division gets less money through the formula than what they would have received in the previous year. And then there’s a bunch of extra funds outside of the formula.”

MVSD will receive a total of $26.4 million in operating support, representing an increase of .9 per cent over last year’s allocation, along with an additional $300,000 targeted to child nutrition programs for a total of $26.7 million in provincial funds for the coming year.

“So a portion of that funding has to very specifically be used for (the child nutrition) program,” Slepicka said adding programs currently run in most, if not all schools in the division and it remains to be see how the new money will be used. “ Most of it is operated through the schools directly and they apply for grant funding on their own. Divisionally we don’t fund breakfast programs currently. We have to see. We haven’t received any details other than the dollar amount and that it has to specifically be used for nutrition programs, but what the parameters of that are . . . no details yet as to how we have to spend it other than on nutrition.”

As part of it’s announcement the Province also lifted the restrictions on local taxation, allowing school boards to go to ratepayers to raise funds.

“We haven’t got anywhere near finalizing numbers or anything like that, so will we be presenting a deficit budget or a balanced budget? I’m not sure yet. The other thing that changed this year is they’ve lifted the restrictions on the local taxation, so that’s an option this year. And we’re not anywhere near having those answers yet.”

Overall, the Province’s support for education increased by 3.4 per cent, an amount higher than the provincial rate of inflation, Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Nello Altomare said.

“After years of feeling the pinch, schools and kids deserve a government that’s ready to fund them at the level they deserve,” Altomare said, adding the increase addresses growing enrolment and supports classroom needs. “Funding will be stable and predictable for divisions while we develop a new funding model for the next fiscal year. For kids, this funding will ensure every student gets the support they need including a universal nutrition program to keep kids fed, healthy and ready for learning.”

Slepicka hopes the new funding model makes things more fair and equitable and that MVSD will see a few more dollars once it is implemented.

“For years everybody has been saying the formula doesn’t work, the formula doesn’t work,” she said.

“So hopefully we come up with a formula that is that will work better and there won’t be all of that funding outside of the formula.”

The 2024-25 funding of schools is an overall increase of $104.2 million that includes:
• $51.5 million in operating costs for public schools;
• $3 million toward smaller class sizes;
• $27.5 million for nutrition programming;
• $11.3 million for capital support, which includes principal and interest costs related to building schools; and
• $10.9 million to independent schools as per their funding agreement.

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Published in Dauphin Herald News