WSD draft budget seeks status quo

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Manitoba’s largest school board is seeking public input on its 2022-23 draft budget, a document that maintains all current programming in central Winnipeg classrooms — except for full-day kindergarten.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/02/2022 (290 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s largest school board is seeking public input on its 2022-23 draft budget, a document that maintains all current programming in central Winnipeg classrooms — except for full-day kindergarten.

The Winnipeg School Division, which oversees nearly 30,000 students across 78 schools, is in the process of preparing its annual budget for the upcoming academic year.

Trustee Chris Broughton, chairman of the board’s finance committee, said in a release Wednesday the current draft document, outlining a $437.1-million budget, proposes “no additions… and no further reductions.”

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Winnipeg School Division's draft budget proposes no additions and no further cuts, said trustee Chris Broughton, chairman of the board’s finance committee. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Baseline provincial funding for the division has decreased by $2.3 million, the equivalent of 1.3 per cent, for the upcoming year, per the WSD release.

However, the division indicated the province has earmarked $13.2 million in one-time funding for the board.

Last week, newly minted Education Minister Wayne Ewasko announced K-12 schools will receive $120 million in total monies next year to undertake regular operations and address new cost pressures.

The latest provincial funding includes $20.2 million in base funding for public and independent schools, a one-time $77-million allotment to address collective agreement settlements and COVID-19 pandemic staffing, and a $23.2-million grant.

Following the announcement, critics were quick to condemn the province for not allocating enough operating funds to meet inflation. School divisions are currently paying skyrocketing prices for everything from gas to groceries.

For the second consecutive year, the province is providing divisions with grants that equal a two per cent property education tax hike to account for a mandated hike freeze. No homeowners will see their taxes increase this year, as the province works toward phasing them out.

Despite a funding decrease and spiking inflation, Broughton said a WSD budget that maintains current offerings is possible because the board passed a motion in autumn to end its full-day kindergarten pilot — a cost of around $500,000 in 2021-22 — based on academic results.

In a prepared release, the division indicated trustees recognize various demands, including resources to address increased mental health and academic needs, may not be “fully met” in the draft budget.

Residents are invited to share input on the blueprint in writing via email or by registering to appear virtually as a delegation at the board’s special budget meeting Feb. 28.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @maggiemacintosh

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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