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Provincial funding announcement hands MVSD a hit


While it was not the kindest public school funding announcement, Bart Michaleski, secretary-treasurer for Mountain View School Division (MVSD) confirmed, it was not a surprise.
“We weren’t anticipating it would be good news, given what’s been going on,” Michaleski said.
Education minister Ian Wishart announced an increase of $6.6 million for school divisions in the 2018-19 school year.
The province’s announcement, Michaleski calculated, amounted to a half per cent increase in funding.
“And with all the stars aligning, properly you would get half a per cent, but not in our situation,” he said, noting MVSD will receive another reduction in funding for the 2018-19 school year of about .08 per cent.
“So that wasn’t too bad, because it could have been up to two per cent.”
Michaleski is projecting a decrease in revenue for MVSD of about $290,000 this year, noting last year, the funding drop was $360,000.
“So you can appreciate the impact that has on a budget, when you get two years in a row of funding reductions,” he said.
The province maintained the funding formula guarantee, Michaleski explained, but divisions are to get no less than 98 per cent of what it received the prior year. This is to wean off heavy users of the guarantee, he said, noting MVSD is not one of them, receiving $39,000 the previous year.
“So, very, very small in the grand scheme of things,” Michaleski added.
The recent funding announcement indicated a .05 per cent increase, if factors, such as enrolment did not change. MVSD has had a decline in enrolment, he said, which always puts a division in a negative position.
Other changes the province announced was to do away with the Tax Incentive Grant (TIG), Michaleski said, which has been a budget line for the division since 2010-11.
Divisions able to keep taxation increases down by two per cent, he said would receive the tax incentive.
“We did the TIG for two years, so we made the cuts for those years to qualify for this funding and so now they’re taking that away,” Michaleski said, noting the grant will be phased out over six years and estimating the division will lose about $115,000 annually for the next six years.
That, added to MVSD’s reduction in funding, Michaleski calculated the division will lose 1.3 per cent.
Looking at the last two years, he said, MVSD has had a decrease in funding, making budgeting difficult, as the division made cuts last year and will have to cut deeper this year.
“We’ve already got a lower level of resources, so we start to cut into services for students and supplies and materials,” Michaleski said, anticipating MVSD will not be able to do as much with the maintenance budget, as well.
“The decisions get tougher.”
The province announced a reduction to the administrative cap of 15 per cent, he said, noting MVSD will be within those parameters, as it was previously spending 85 per cent of the cap.
There are not a lot of changes to calculations within the funding formula, Michaleski said, and less funding is tied to programs. The province is still trying to create a new funding model for students with special needs, he added, and have frozen funding at last year’s levels.
There are some minor changes in equalization, Michaleski pointed out, and formula guarantees have not changed. An additional $40,000 was put into intensive newcomers support, he said, which is a small amount, compared to overall education costs.
Divisions have been instructed their level of taxation increase should be no more than two per cent, Michaleski said, which is another restriction to funding.
“So we’ve really got a defined level of resources that we can look at, to balance the budget,” he said.
With the announcement, MVSD now has direction, Michaleski said, and an obligation to make the best decisions possible, with the resources given.
MVSD’s budget must be submitted to the province by Mar. 30, he said, adding the public budget meeting is scheduled for Mar. 5, and he anticipates the board will approve its special levy and the budget, Mar. 12.

M. A. Nyquist