The Swan Valley School Division is at a crossroads.
Over the last 4 years, the school division has received funding from the Manitoba government through a formula guarantee, which grants schools 100 per cent of the previous year’s funding, regardless of decline in enrollment.
However superintendent Tim Mendel says last year the government downsized the guarantee to 98 per cent.
“They’re looking at the overall provincial deficit,” Mendel explained. “Education is one of their big cost items next to health care, so they’re looking to balance their budget just like we’re looking to balance our budget.”
Enrollment numbers are another cause for concern, as only 1419 students are enrolled, which is 54 per cent below the design capacity of 31-hundred students. While that’s decreasing, wages, heating, maintenance and other expenses continue to increase with each passing year.
One of the options under consideration to reduce operational and staffing costs is the possible closure of the Birch River, Bowsman, Minitonas Early Years and Taylor/Heyes schools. Another potential course of action is merging all Grade 7 and 8 students into one school in Swan River.
He says community consultations have been held in Birch River, Bowsman, Minitonas, Benito and Swan River, to inform everyone of the situation and to get feedback; and from what he’s heard residents are understanding what S-V-S-D is facing.
The school division is looking to receive even more feedback from residents via online survey at www.svsd.ca.