Year over year, funding to the Garden Valley School Division (GVSD) increased by $1.1 million, or 2.9 %. Spending is going up too, year over year, increasing by 4.9 percent, reflecting a total operating budget of just under $60 million.
The draft budget was presented to the public before GVSD's regular board meeting Tuesday night, where trustees finalized the document. Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Vovchuk says education property taxes will be going up around 5.4 percent.

"It's a very much a status quo budget. There were some initiatives undertaken by the trustees to target additional administration time. It was seen as a need, especially in some of our smaller schools," said Vovchuk. "So it was targeted to try to provide more support to those specific schools."

Eighty-four percent of GVSD's operating budget is earmarked towards salaries and benefits.

Board Chair Leah Klassen says it was key they balance the budget, and they did that.

"We're grateful to our government partners in education to allow school boards the autonomy to raise taxes as they see needed, in a reasonable manner. So we're very excited with the fact that we can work with that this year."

Klassen highlighted Garden Valley has traditionally run a very lean budget.

"When you ask about some of the challenges that we have this year, we're very grateful for the ability to tax. It was definitely a challenge to take a look at all of the needs of Garden Valley because we haven't been able to infuse funding into that based on the decreased funding that we've been receiving. So that probably was the biggest challenge, is to look at overall, and then what is the highest needs of the school division and then try to whittle that way down."

Klassen added GVSD is grateful to the government, which has allowed the Board to request Capital Reserve funds, something they’ve been unable to do for the last number of years. 

The budget for 2024/25 includes three capital reserve funds.  

J.R. Walkof Link - $150 000 

Winkler Elementary Office Relocation - $350 000     

Northlands Parkway Window Replacement - $500 000 

"So, that link is sinking, and it's becoming unsafe to use," said Klassen referring to the J.R. Walkof School. "We are going to look at Winkler Elementary School, a main office relocation. Again, that brings safety into the school. Right now, you can access the school and the school administrators can't see, there's not a straight eye line of sight. So, we want to make sure that our staff and students are safe. Then we had to allocate $500,000 to window replacements at Northlands Parkway because our windows are failing there, and we do need to fix those."

In a school that's just over a decade old, it's been a big disappointment the windows at NPC are not doing what they're supposed to be doing, noted Klassen.

Vovchuck says they undertook every avenue to try to find some party that was part of the construction process, to get a remedy from, going back to the sealed unit manufacturer and window manufacturer.

"Legal counsel basically told us there is no other party we can go back to. So, unfortunately, it is going to be our cost to bear. It's not a safety issue. It's that the windows are fogging up," said Vovchuk. "So we'll take care of the worst windows first. and because we have a set allocation now, we can do those windows as needed. We don't have to do them all at once in one budget year, so it allows us to be much more efficient and effective with that money." 


What does the estimated impact mean to GVSD's ratepayers on education Property Taxes?

On a home valued at $ 300,000, education taxes will increase by around $80, which is before the education property tax rebate is applied.

Taxes will go up $200 for a business, valued at $500 000.

Agricultural property valued at $2 million will increase by $310.

This year, the province will apply the rebate directly to the Education portion of the tax bill, as opposed to mailing a cheque separately.