The School District of Mystery Lake will receive $1.1 million more from the provincial government for the 2023-24 school year than it did for this year.
Overall, the district will receive $36.1 million, up from a total of $35 million for this year that was announced a year ago. The actual amount Mystery Lake receives for this school year could change based on in-year adjustments and actual enrolment.
The 2023-24 funding includes $35.9 million in base operating funding and a $200,000 property tax offset grant. For 2022-23, the funding was made up of $33.4 million in base funding, a $200,000 property tax offset grant and $1.4 million in one-time wage adjustments.
Education Minister Wayne Ewasko said Feb. 2 that one-time funding provided to school districts last year is being made permanent.
The minister said school operating funding is up 6.1 per cent, or $100 million, from last year’s announced amount.
“Every division will see an increase in funding next year, which will help them engage students and invest in the programs and services that will best meet the needs of local communities,” Ewasko said in a press release, which also said that Manitoba has some of the highest funding per-pupil of any Canadian province. “This investment continues to highlight our ongoing commitment to improving literacy and numeracy and strengthening Indigenous education.”
Mystery Lake’s increase is in the middle of the pack for the province’s 37 school divisions, representing about a three per cent increase over the 2022-23 total funding amount.
James Bedford, Manitoba Teachers’ Society president said that while the union appreciates the largest operating funding increase in several years — the 2022-23 school year’s operating funding increase was $43 million, though one-time wage assistance payments of $77 million made the total funding increase $120 million — it doesn’t make up for underfunding in previous years.
“Cuts to student programs, teacher shortages, class size issues, lack of special needs resources, mental health and Indigenous programming, not enough meal programs, and soaring inflation will continue to challenge public schools next year,” he said in a press release. “Students, teachers and schools are counting on stable, adequate funding year after year to meet their growing needs. The insecurity around the yearly yo-yo of funding announcements causes tremendous stress to students and teachers, not to mention divisions which absolutely need stable funding to deliver programs to kids.”
The union president also said he was disappointed that the province’s new education funding model won’t be ready until next year. Ewasko said that work on that model continues and that the government plans to have one-on-one consultations with each school division after it releases its annual budget this spring.
NDP education critic Nello Altomare said the funding was not enough.
“We know kids need more support in the classroom, not less. It’s time for a government that puts kids first and helps families.”