School district getting more provincial funding for next school year, partly due to higher enrolment

The School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) will get 3.5 per cent more funding from the provincial government for the next school year then it did for this one.

The province announced Jan. 30 that across the province, public school funding will be $1.33 billion this year, up marginally from $1.329 billion for the 2020-21 school year.

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SDML will receive $32.6 million for next school year, up 3.5 per cent from the $31.5 million it received for this school year after adjustments, which is slightly less than the $32.2 million the provincial government announced in January 2019. That amount included $31.5 million in provincial operating support (later reduced by nearly $700,000 based on actual enrolment) and about $700,000 in a tax incentive grant (TIG). The province said this year’s amount rose due to an increase in equalization support and a 1.3 per cent growth in enrolment, which was partially offset by the TIG phase-out.

SDML is one of nine school districts in the province receiving more funding this year than last, along with others including Flin Flon and Frontier School Division, which saw their provincial funding rise one per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. In percentage terms, SDML’s 3.5 per cent funding increase is fourth-highest among all of Manitoba’s 37 school divisions.

Manitoba Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said when announcing provincial education funding Jan. 30 that the $1.33 billion is a record and that Manitoba will spend $14,733 per student next year. Only Saskatchewan and New Brunswick spend more.

“This investment in our public schools demonstrates our government’s commitment to students’ success,” Goertzen said. "This funding is the most ever committed to public schools in Manitoba’s history. Since 2016, funding to elementary and secondary education has grown by nearly $33 million.”

Manitoba Teachers’ Society president James Bedford said that by increasing school funding 0.5 per cent, the government was announcing a real dollar drop, given two per cent inflation and a one per cent increase in overall school enrolment in the province.

“Teachers face increases in enrolment and more diverse student needs than ever,” said Bedford in a statement on the teachers’ society website. "This announcement is not robust enough to address these issues. We could very well see cuts to student programs, more school closures and teacher layoffs, and fewer supports for special needs students.”

All districts received at least 98 per cent of the funding they got last year, the province said, noting that school divisions have a combined operating surplus of $98 million. Goertzen has once again requested that school divisions limit increases to education property taxes to no more than two per cent.

The province noted that school district administration costs were more than $65 million in 2018-19. In what was called an effort to increase transparency, the education department released an out-of-province travel expense summary for all school divisions. SDML spent $13,766.70 on four out-of-province trips for trustees and one of its superintendents in the 2017-18 school year and $3,701.48 for one trip by one of its superintendents during the 2018-19 school year.

SDML is holding its public budget presentation for the 2020-21 school year Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at the school district office.

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