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Manitoba NDP accusing province of hiding funding model for schools

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The Manitoba NDP is alleging that the Stefanson government’s funding model for schools is being delayed until after the provincial election, because it lays the groundwork for cuts to the classroom.

On Thursday, the NDP announced it obtained the ‘Draft Framework for the New K-12 Funding Model’ through a Freedom of Information Request. According to the NDP, the draft framework says the funding model review will not determine whether K-12 funding is adequate or where funds will be found to make up for the changes to education property taxes.

The NDP alleges that the Progressive Conservatives are hiding their funding model for schools, because it will lead to more cuts.

“When we look at this government document, it says don’t ask us if school funding is inadequate and don’t ask us how we’re going to pay for what we’re doing with education revenue to give people rebates,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew at a news conference on Thursday.

“So naturally, it kind of suggests there’s a real problem with school funding and there are legitimate questions for how they’re going to pay for these changes that they’re making.”

Kinew said that school funding should increase to meet the needs of the students, especially coming out of the pandemic when so many children were challenged with online learning.

“Right now what we’re seeing with the PCs is just the status quo since they’ve been in since 2016,” he said.

“We see what that’s leading to in the classroom, kids falling behind, not having EAs, overcrowded classrooms, things like that. So we really need to invest in education at this time. Let’s have those resources there to help the kids.”

A review of the draft framework shows the PC’s will put greater focus on equitable distribution and recognizing that costs are different for each school division. It also says the province’s new funding model will be flexible so schools can make decisions based on their needs, and that the government is working to ensure that students succeed regardless of their background, where they live, or their individual circumstances.

In a statement, Education Minister Wayne Ewasko said the government is aware of the need to focus on consultations and meet with school divisions. The statement added that the province is giving newly-elected school trustees time to adjust and get accustomed to the budget process for the next school year.

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