The administration team for the Hanover School Division is still analyzing details of the province’s education funding announcement, figuring out how this impacts their budget for the upcoming school year.
Trustee Ron Falk chairs the finance committee and says, at first glance, the funding for Hanover looks better than it has been over the last number of years.
“Funding is always based on what the government is projecting our enrollment will be,” he says. “And so, their numbers are projecting a little bit higher. They're projecting we will have 300 additional students next year. We're being a little more conservative and saying maybe 150 but who really knows, it’s anybody's guess."
The Hanover School Division is receiving $69.6 million for the 2024-25 school year, which is $4.6 million more than last year’s funding. This works out as an increase of 7.1 percent.
“We were hoping of course it would be better than it had been in the last few years because that was just not sustainable at all,” says Falk. “Many, if not all school boards, are in the same situation and it wasn't looking good.”
This increase in funding will make the budget process quite a bit easier, he adds.
There were a few new pieces in the announcement last week.
“There is an allowance that we can put in reasonable tax increases which, honestly, we just haven't been able to do for the last many years already and it's slowly been killing us,” Falk says. “And not just us, but every school division. Our assessment in our division would be going up and we were unable to tax. As a result, in Hanover in the last five or six years actually, homeowners have been paying less. If they lived in the same house and haven't made improvements, they've actually been paying less, year over year over year.”
Falk says there have been cost increases, especially during the past couple of years, and the funding increase has not kept up.
“There will definitely be some kind of tax increase,” he adds.
While Falk says it is too early to indicate exactly what kind of a tax increase, he encourages people to attend the public budget consultation meeting Tuesday evening to learn more details about the funding, expenses and tax increase.
This meeting will take place from 6:30pm-7:30pm on February 6th in the boardroom of the Hanover School Division office in Steinbach.
Another piece of the provincial funding announcement focuses on child nutrition, with $575,000 to be used for feeding hungry students in the Hanover School Division.
“That is a new program, and, in many ways, it is also exciting because frankly there are a lot of students that don't get a proper meal before they even come to school and maybe even not at lunch. So, it will certainly help a number of students.”