News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

January 29, 2009

PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING INCREASES 5.25 PER CENT

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While Many Economies Shrink, Education Funding in Manitoba Expands: Bjornson

In the face of challenging economic times, the Manitoba government is more than doubling its commitment to fund education at the rate of economic growth by increasing its investment in public schools this year by 5.25 per cent, ensuring that, together with an extended Tax Incentive Grant and over $60 million in school division surpluses, divisions can hold the line on property taxes, Education, Citizenship and Youth Minister Peter Bjornson announced today.
 
“Education is a key priority for our government,” said Bjornson. “Manitoba, like other provinces, is not immune to the effects of the global economic slowdown. Nevertheless, we are committing to increase this year’s funding for public education at a level that is more than twice the province’s inflation rate and more than twice the rate of economic growth in 2008.
 
“This funding of $53.1 million means every single school division in Manitoba will receive increased financial support and it means school divisions have the tools available to hold the line on property taxes.”
 
Today’s announcement includes the continuation, for a second year, of the tax incentive grant that will enable school divisions to not increase property taxes. According to Statistics Canada, Manitoba is the only province that has seen property taxes decrease from 2000 to 2008.  During this period, Manitoba property taxes declined by 0.8 per cent.
 
In response to declining enrolments, the province is introducing a new grant to support smaller schools. The $800,000 allocated will ensure that each qualifying school receives a minimum of $125,000 for additional instructional support, said Bjornson.
 
As well, $33.2 million more will be provided for equalization to support school divisions, particularly those with a low tax base. A total of $195,000 is available to create three new community schools this year.  Community schools enrich students’ education by working with parents and families to help more students become successful and stay in school, the minister added.
  
Funding for grade 11 and 12 physical education is increasing by $1.6 million over last year’s total of $2.1 million to support implementation of the new physical education/health education requirements. Changes to the curriculum were recommended as a high priority by the all-party Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Task Force, Bjornson said.
 
School division surpluses combined currently exceed $60 million.  It is expected that, when feasible, school divisions will continue to use surplus funds to support initiatives over the school year, Bjornson said.
 
Additional funding increases include:
·         $33.2 million more for equalization to support school divisions, particularly those with a low tax base;
·         $2.6 million more to ensure all school divisions see at least a two per cent increase in funding from 2008-09;
·         $1.1 million more for small schools, in addition to the new Additional Instructional Support for Small Schools grant, to assist school divisions struggling with declining enrolments;
·         $1 million for level 2 and 3 special-needs funding for a higher number of special-needs students;
·         $1 million for a higher number of English as an additional language (EAL) students; and
·         $900,000 more targeted to socio-economic indicators such as low income and migrancy.
 
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