Education minister announces ‘astronomical’ public school funding hike
Manitoba is making kindergarten-to-Grade 12 funding more predictable for public school boards and increasing their 2023-24 operating dollars by 6.1 per cent — the largest bump of its kind in at least 25 years.
Education Minister Wayne Ewasko announced Thursday that more than $100 million is being allocated to pay for public schools next year.
“Each and every school division is receiving an increase for the school year of 2023-24,” Ewasko said. “This will help divisions engage students and invest in the programs and services that will best meet the needs of their own local communities.”
The province had been under growing pressure from school leaders, trustees and families to address chronic underfunding in recent years. School divisions will be able to spend money where they see fit, Ewasko said.
“We understand the importance of providing equitable funding across the province and this year we’ve considered socio-economic factors and other factors to improve equity and ensure funding is directed to where it is needed most,” he said.
The latest annual funding announcement includes a $62.9 million bump in operating support, including $20 million to address cost pressures and $5 million for special-needs programming.
“Some of the biggest cost pressures that we’re seeing is that transportation factor for sure, I mean we’re all experiencing it, especially in the rural and northern (communities),” Ewasko said. “Everything is going up.”
Every division will receive the equivalent of new funding at the equivalent of a 2.5 per cent or higher hike compared to 2022-23 levels.
The annual funding guarantee, previously at 98 per cent, has also been updated to 100 per cent. This means boards are guaranteed to receive all of the dollars they received one year prior going forward.
“This is astronomical, as far as an announcement goes — for money and percentage increase, and all that,” Ewasko told the Free Press.
Asked about the timing of the major announcement — at the start of a provincial election year, the minister said the Tories have been focused on listening and responding to Manitobans over the last three years.
The province will also spend another $106 million to make one-time funding provided to school divisions last year permanent, according to a release.
The funding includes $22 million to support student presence and engagement to implement the Safe and Caring Schools policy directive.
— with files from Danielle Da Silva
Credit: Education minister announces ‘astronomical’ public school funding hike