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The Manitoba government last week, announced an increase of $6.6 million in provincial funding for public education for the 2019/20 school year.

As a result, the Garden Valley School Division (GVSD) is estimating it will receive an additional $120,000 in provincial funding to inject into its upcoming operating budget. That represents a 0.4% increase from the current funding levels.

Secretary-Treasurer Terry Penner, says more money is always better than less, and they will do the best they can to make the figures work. terry penner dec2018GVSD Secretary-Treasurer Terry Penner

Penner says the biggest challenge will be making the dollars stretch in a year the division is opening a new school. Pine Ridge Elementary is set to open this September.

"As you can imagine, there is just a whole host of additional costs in starting up a brand new building," says Penner. "The board has put some money aside to do that, as often there are some unforeseen things that come about."

As part of the government announcement, school boards have again been directed to cap any increases in education property taxes at 2%. Penner says that restriction is something they will need to pay close attention to during the upcoming budget process. If the board were to go to the full 2%, Penner says that would represent an increase of about $400,000. "Certainly there is a little bit of room there, but in a year when you're opening a new school with many unknowns, it's going to take a fair bit of work for the board to work within these new parameters."

In addition to the 2% property tax cap, school boards have also been asked to cap administrative expenses, and that directive hasn't yet been made clear. "When we call them and ask about that, they're not releasing exactly what those restrictions are. . . That is an unknown that we need to pay attention to."

The GVSD board has scheduled a Budget Consultation meeting on Thursday, February 28, 2019, at 7:00 pm at Northlands Parkway Collegiate in Winkler. The general public is invited to attend and engage the School Board in budget planning discussions.

The Board will approve the 2019 Special Levy at its meeting on March 12 and submit the approved 2019/2020 School Division budget by March 31, 2019.

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