Trustees in the River East Transcona School Division have approved a $201.8-million budget for the upcoming school year that takes into account the impact COVID-19 has had on student well-being.
The budget has few changes in store for 2021-22, aside from a modest increase of 5.1 new full-time equivalent resource teacher and clinician positions.
“This health crisis has thrown everything upside down, and we know come the fall, there are going to be a lot of children, a lot of families, who are going to require a lot more support from education — academically, and for their mental health and well-being,” said Jerry Sodomlak, chairman of the board.
The province has allocated $98.9 million in operating funding, the equivalent of a 0.6 per cent increase, for the Winnipeg-based division next year.
Divisions have been directed to freeze property education taxes, with the province instead offering one-time grants the equivalent of a two per cent hike; in River East Transcona, that means a resident with an average home valued at $287,500 will see an approximately $27 decrease on their tax bill.
Sodomlak said revenues don’t keep pace with inflation and growing enrolment costs, and could result in larger class sizes next year.
“The government has dropped the ball… but I believe that we have an extremely capable and strong senior administration team in our division and teaching staff who will be able to continue our programming,” he said Wednesday, adding the division has strong inclusion supports, unique bilingual programs and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) offerings.
Trustee Brianne Goertzen, chairwoman of the finance committee, echoed those sentiments Wednesday: “We’re looking at trying to maintain a status quo.”
Not unlike other boards, staffing and benefit costs in the River East Transcona account for nearly 90 per cent of its total budget.
Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press