Superintendent of the Portage la Prairie School Division (PLPSD) Todd Cuddington sat down with PortageOnline at this past Tuesday's School Board meeting to discuss the uncertainty surrounding this year's budget process.

He says we are entering a grey area around public education, funding and taxation.

"It's probably going to be one of the more challenging budget preparation processes in a number of years, largely because we really don't know where we stand on a few things."

The transition between provincial governments has brought up questions about the funding formula.

"We're really not sure the direction the province wants to take us, regarding the changes that were understood, which was a move away from local taxation to a more centralized approach, or at least that was what we thought was coming."

Cuddington says that elected trustees are discussing the budget without knowing what the formula will look like.

"I think every division across the province is facing these challenges. So, the school boards association is having some conversations, and obviously, secretary treasurers and superintendents are reaching out to deputy ministers and ministers of education for some clarity."

Inflation and unprecedented cost increases are an understandable concern for the Superintendent. 

"Our budget is 85 per cent staffing costs. Within that context, we have to make some decisions, and we don't really have a lot of the answers. So, it's going to make for a difficult, budget process."

Cuddington notes that generally, the budget would be set by the end of March, and he hopes for more closure by then.

"We'll be preparing a number of different scenarios. We'll try and hopefully have a few more answers to give us a little bit more of an accurate picture of what's coming. The big question that most ratepayers have is, will this mean increases? We just don't have those answers because we're just not 100 per cent sure of how the province is going to approach this."