St. James division trims budget for next year

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Students, education workers and families in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division can expect status quo operations in schools in west Winnipeg in 2022-23.

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Students, education workers and families in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division can expect status quo operations in schools in west Winnipeg in 2022-23.

Trustees have approved a $118-million budget, which represents a $359,345 cut that includes staff reductions through attrition. The board has indicated it will aim to maintain current class sizes: an average of 20.5 in early years; 22.8 for middle years; and 21.4 for senior years.

“Our board has collaborated closely with our provincial counterparts to ensure that our division received adequate funding to maintain all our programs and services, as well as our small class sizes,” said Craig Glennie, chairman of the board’s finance committee, in a news release Wednesday.

The division received a 2.4 per cent increase in annual operating funding from the province to serve the 8,200 students in its 26 schools in 2022-23.

School boards across the province have been faced with numerous budget challenges this year that will result in limited program additions and in some cases, reductions in 2022-23 due to COVID-19 expenses, staff wage settlements, and surging inflation.

Manitoba has provided boards with one-time grants to cover the those cost pressures, in addition to a grant the equivalent of a two per cent hike in property education taxes since the fees remain frozen at 2020 levels.

In its release, the SJASD board promoted the fact the average homeowner in the division will have their annual bill decrease by $15.31 next year because the education property tax remains frozen as the province works to phase it out.

The division also touted that its administration costs will account for 2.51 per cent of total expenses, which is lower than the province’s current requirement of 2.7 per cent.

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca

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