The Portage la Prairie School Division announced its budget plans for the upcoming 2023-24 school year on Wednesday evening.

Marie Hélène Hoggarth, Chair of the board, made a few remarks to kick off the budget event, which took place at Portage Collegiate Institute on an extremely cold night.

Hoggarth then handed the microphone to Board Trustee Shauna-Lei Leslie, who brought the well-attended crowd through a number of slides identifying where funding would be going in 2023-24 and where it had gone in the past.

Leslie announced the budget would be roughly $46,599,259, although it has yet to be finalized.

Superintendent Todd Cuddington hopes staff and parents realize that the board is making the most of a strict budget.

"We want to meet the needs and requests that have come to the division. But at the same time, the reality is that we're all facing higher inflation than we're used to.

Cuddington adds that although inflation is high, students come first no matter what. He says the board has listened to parent councils and staff on what the needs are for the children, which mainly include upgrades to facilitates and behavioural/mental health support.

"Overall, it looks promising," says Cuddington on the budget.

Marie Hélène Hoggarth told PortageOnline that this budget reflects what divisions are feeling across the province.

"All divisions are having difficulties trying to keep their heads above water, and there's a lot of needs out there that have to be met."

Hoggarth notes that any parents or staff who still wants a say in the budget can come forward and present to the board next Tuesday at their next school board meeting. However, a notice of that presentation must come forward to the division by no later than Monday, February 27.

The Portage la Prairie School Division is home to 625 staff and 3501 students in 17 schools.