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Provincial funding announcement was about what MVSD expected

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A provincial funding increase of $6.6 million for public elementary and secondary education was announced Jan. 24 and Mountain View School Division (MVSD) secretary-treasurer Bart Michaleski noted it is virtually identical to last year.
“So given it’s the same amount of money, it’s not as bad as last year, at least from the initial first look at it,” he said.
“We’re going to be down .07 per cent and we were down more than that last time.”
MVSD’s overall funding was down about $289,000 last year, Michaleski said, compared to about $146,000 this year.
“Part of that was because of the funding piece and then the other part of it was because they’re phasing out the Tax Incentive Grant (TIG). And so they’re kind of tied together,” he explained.
“So when we look at our funding right now, we’re not going to be down as much, because we had a bit of an enrolment increase this year that we weren’t expecting. So that helped us from a funding standpoint.”
MVSD will still lose its TIG funding of $115,000, Michaleski said, estimating the reduction of provincial funding is still about half of last year.
“I’m still working through the numbers, because they just came yesterday (Jan. 24), but overall, we’re going to be in a little better shape than we were last year,” he added.
“But all in all, it’s still going to be some tough decisions. We knew going in that this was going to be very similar and like I say, everything in the announcement for the most part is almost identical to last year.”
For example, Michaleski noted, the TIG is being phased out over six years and the Funding of Schools formula guarantees 98 per cent of the previous year’s total.
“We weren’t on the guarantee, so that didn’t affect us, so really it’s kind of a status quo school funding announcement,” he added.
“And we’re going into budget with the mindset that it’s going to be a status quo budget. We can’t be looking for many additions to the agenda. We’ve just got to try to maintain what we have.”
Michaleski noted the condition on locally collected school board property taxes is the same as last year, with a cap on increases at two per cent and MVSD will have to manage, knowing its resources are finite.
While he was not surprised with the funding announcement, Michaleski knew the enrolment increase for MVSD this fall would play itself through the formula, resulting in a more positive announcement.
“So I was assuming based on that enrolment increase that the reduction would be a little less and that’s really what transpired,” he added.
MVSD must work through the rest of the funding details, Michaleski said, to complete the draft budget, for discussion with the board.
He pointed out some annual increases may be smaller, as the mandate under Bill 28, The Public Services Sustainability Act, is anticipated to relieve financial pressure on school divisions through public sector wage control.
“So if we’ve got a budget based on that mandate, then our cost increases certainly will be a little lower,” he said, adding wages are 82 per cent of MVSD’s budget.
“And we’ll just have to deal with the other anomalies that are out there, such as cost increases that come into play that are out of our control.”
He listed fuel, natural gas and hydro as increases the division has little control over.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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