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Administrators with Border Land School Division (BLSD) are crunching the numbers after learning the division will see a 2 percent decrease in provincial support for 2019/20.

According to Manitoba Education, the reduced funding is due to a change in the Formula Guarantee for the school division.

As BLSD Secretary-Treasurer Rachel Geirnart explained, increased enrolment in the division translated into $768,000 less from the Formula Guarantee. However, these added student numbers also mean more base and equalization funding, ultimately cutting the shortfall down to $348,000. blsd rachelRachel Geirnart

A list of 2019/20 divisional expenses had already been calculated, and following Thursday's provincial public schools funding announcement, Geirnart says her team is revisiting that list and determining what kind of adjustments need to be made.

"We look at keeping our cost increases to a minimum but there's always cost of supplies, products, (and) services that increase, but we also need to meet the needs of our students and those are ever-changing," she explained.

While the province is relying on The Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28) to help relieve financial pressure on school divisions and control salary costs, Geirnart says BLSD will continue to experience salary increases as employees make their way up the salary grid.

Geirnart admits local tax dollars could help to make up some of the difference, but notes the board doesn't want to spend money for the sake of spending money. She added the division also needs to consider the provincial directive to keep increases to the Special Requirement to a maximum 2 percent.

Overall, Geirnart says she is pleased the province made the funding announcement 2 weeks earlier than last year, relieving pressure on school divisions to hastily put a budget together before the deadline.

Geirnart will present a draft budget to the BLSD Board of Trustees on February 20. The document will then be presented to the public at a pair of consultation meetings scheduled for February 26 in Vita and February 27 in Altona. The budget will then come back to the board for approval in March before finally being sent off to Manitoba Education for final approval in April.

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