Stu­dent num­bers have been in­ex­orably de­clin­ing, with only mi­nor blips of growth, to 200,087 as of Sept. 30, 2014, from 209,352 in 1987.

What’s strik­ing is that pub­lic-school stu­dents as a per­cent­age of over­all en­rol­ment have dropped to 90.1 per cent from 95.2 per cent.

The in­crease in home-schooled chil­dren has been noth­ing short of ex­tra­or­di­nary: to 2,970 dur­ing the last school year from 186 when NDP premier Howard Paw­ley left of­fice in 1988. (How­ever, changes in how gov­ern­ment over­sees home-school­ers sug­gest there may well have been more than 186 at that time.)

Pri­vate school num­bers made a big jump dur­ing the Fil­mon years (1988-99) — no sur­prise, given the Tories in­tro­duced per-stu­dent op­er­at­ing grants in re­sponse to a court chal­lenge. Pri­vate schools re­ceive 50 per cent of the per-stu­dent money spent by the pub­lic school di­vi­sion in which they are lo­cated — far short of the 80 per cent the pri­vate schools wanted, but still more than $50 mil­lion a year.

Man­i­toba now has a $2.25-bil­lion pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, more than dou­ble what it was when Con­ser­va­tive premier Gary Fil­mon took of­fice in 1988.

The money spent on op­er­at­ing the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem an­nu­ally grew 23.3 per cent dur­ing the Fil­mon years, and 80.5 per cent un­der the New Democrats.

Teach­ers’ salaries and ben­e­fits have al­ways been by far the high­est por­tion of ed­u­ca­tion costs re­gard­less which party is in power.

Dur­ing the Fil­mon years, the costs of class­room teach­ers as a per­cent­age of over­all spend­ing dropped to 51 per cent from 56.7 per cent, as the Man­i­toba Teach­ers’ So­ci­ety claimed 700 full-time equiv­a­lent teach­ing jobs dis­ap­peared. But the per­cent­age has dropped even fur­ther un­der the NDP, to 47.3 per cent, as hir­ing of cer­ti­fied teach­ers in non-class­room roles such as re­source teach­ers, read­ing spe­cial­ists, math con­sul­tants, guidance coun­sel­lors and spe­cial­needs teach­ers has in­creased dra­mat­i­cally.

The Tories had a low in­crease in spend­ing per stu­dent, to $6,612 from $5,418 per child, dur­ing their time in of­fice, an in­crease of 22.9 per cent.

The NDP has since al­most dou­bled 2000-01 spend­ing per stu­dent to $12,248, a jump of 91.9 per cent.

There has also been a dra­matic change in the stu­dent-teacher ra­tios.

Un­der the Tories, class­room sizes got big­ger by 4.7 per cent, while the NDP has shrunk class sizes by 12.1 per cent.

An even more dra­matic change is vis­i­ble in ed­u­ca­tor-stu­dent ra­tio of all cer­ti­fied teach­ers in the school to all stu­dents. That ra­tio got 7.7 per cent larger un­der the Fil­mon Con­ser­va­tives, to 15.4 stu­dents for ev­ery cer­ti­fied teacher; un­der the NDP, there are 13.1 chil­dren for ev­ery cer­ti­fied teacher in the school, a drop of 14.9 per cent.

The Fil­mon Tories in­creased op­er­at­ing grants for pub­lic schools by 7.5 per cent, while the NDP has pumped 85.1 per cent more in op­er­at­ing grants into the sys­tem.

Sta­tis­tics Canada fig­ures show the cost of liv­ing rose in Man­i­toba 28.7 per cent dur­ing the Fil­mon years, and by 33.7 dur­ing the NDP years (up to Dec. 31, 2014).

Mean­while, the amount of money school di­vi­sions col­lected un­der the spe­cial levy went up 72.4 per cent in the Fil­mon years and 121.4 per cent so far un­der the New Democrats.

How­ever, such fig­ures are not so eas­ily com­pared, es­pe­cially given what the NDP has done in its 15 years.

There have been changes in tax­a­tion on farm­land, and a farm­land tax re­bate. The NDP phased out property taxes paid by uni­ver­si­ties. The property tax credit be­came an ed­u­ca­tion property tax credit close to a decade ago, even though it is now and al­ways has been a re­duc­tion on property tax bills and isn’t avail­able to school di­vi­sions to spend. For four years, the NDP of­fered a tax in­cen­tive grant (TIG), which was ex­tra cash un­der a com­plex for­mula for school di­vi­sions whose boards chose to freeze taxes — TIG be­came part of the prov­ince’s base grants to that di­vi­sion the fol­low­ing year, re­gard­less whether trus­tees froze taxes again. TIG is no longer of­fered.

When the NDP took of­fice, the ed­u­ca­tion sup­port levy was paid by ev­ery res­i­den­tial property tax­payer at a uni­form mill rate across Man­i­toba. Even though it was col­lected through the property tax bill, the ESL was con­sid­ered provin­cial fund­ing, not mu­nic­i­pal tax­a­tion. The NDP phased out the ESL on res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, but con­tin­ues to col­lect it on com­mer­cial prop­er­ties.

Again, they’re dif­fi­cult to com­pare, be­cause the av­er­age teacher has changed a lot over the years.

Teach­ers’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions are de­fined in seven classes, but for more than a decade, pretty much ev­ery new teacher hired has been at least a Class 5. In 2003, the prov­ince in­tro­duced the five-year af­ter­de­gree pro­gram, in which fu­ture Class 5 teach­ers first get an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree, then a de­gree from a fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion.

A typ­i­cal teacher th­ese days is con­sid­ered a Class 5 teacher who has maxed out on in­cre­men­tal in­creases af­ter 10 years. A Class 5 teacher can be­come Class 6 with a mas­ter’s de­gree, or a Class 7 with a PhD or two mas­ter’s de­grees.

The Man­i­toba Teach­ers’ So­ci­ety says an av­er­age teacher in 2000 made a mid-$50,000 salary.

The MTS web­site says the me­dian salary for a Class 5 teacher with 10 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence is now $84,162, an in­crease of 53 per cent — well above in­fla­tion but well be­low the over­all cost in­crease in op­er­at­ing the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. (Re­mem­ber, how­ever, teach­ers from each of those eras’ have vastly dif­fer­ent qual­i­fi­ca­tions.)

Teach­ers have set­tled in 23 of the 37 bar­gain­ing units in Man­i­toba. While each di­vi­sion’s teach­ers bar­gain for spe­cific changes in work­ing con­di­tions, money has been the same in each deal: a 2.0 per cent raise in Septem­ber of 2015, 2016 and 2017, with al­most all of them also agree­ing on two 1.5 per cent raises six months apart in 2018. That’s 9.03 per cent com­pounded over four years.

Last year, seven Class 7 teach­ers in Thomp­son be­came the first reg­u­lar class­room teach­ers to crack the $100,000 bar­rier. By the time the new deals ex­pire June 30, 2018, most Class 6 and 7 vet­eran teach­ers will be in six fig­ures, and that typ­i­cal Class 5 teacher with 10 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence will be in the very high $90s.

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