Minister of Education Nancy Allan recently announced that funding for public schools will be increased by 2.2% or $25.5 million for the 2012-13 school year.
A number of divisions, including Winnipeg and River East Transcona school divisions, will receive a similar amount of funding, resulting in a 0% increase in school taxes for the coming school year. This means schools in the East Kildonan area could be strapped for cash yet again.
"This is a very concerning situation. With a 0% increase in funding, something will have to be done," said Mike Babinsky, a trustee in Winnipeg School Division’s Ward Three, which includes part of northeast Winnipeg.
"With more and more students enrolling each year, we need an increase of funding. We need a tax increase or we may have to start cutting programs from our classrooms"
Babinsky isn’t the only person who is concerned. Parents with children currently in school may have to face the reality of seeing in-school programs cut.
"I would rather pay more taxes then see programs cut from schools. I know my kids participate in school programs, so I’d be willing to pay more taxes to keep that going," said Blair Wynnyk, a father in East Kildonan.
"Some people will not be for a tax increase, but I have kids in school, so I can relate with how important their programs are. It would be a shame if some were cut."
Maintaining older buildings and bringing new technology into the classroom is becoming increasingly hard to achieve.
It’s a fact that hasn’t escaped the attention of many educators.
"It is very disturbing that schools in our community (East Kildonan) will not receive more money this year," said former teacher Terry Anderson.
"As a former teacher, we were always in need of more money each and every year, and it is disappointing when we fell short. Cutting in-school programs is not the answer."
Another challenge for local school divisions is the elimination of the Tax Incentive Grant. During the past four years, the TIG brought in about $130 million in funding for divisions. Without it, spending must be cut or taxes raised. It is a critical decision the school board must make.
"I can only hope something is resolved as a parent and former educator. Our children are the future and they must be taken care of. I hope this situation can be resolved soon," Anderson said.
Brandon Logan is an East Kildonan-based writer.
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