Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big tax hike or cutbacks for biggest division

  • Print

ALL those annual predictions of doom and gloom in the Winnipeg School Division could finally be about to come true.

The province's largest division is facing property-tax increases up to eight per cent just to maintain the status quo, said school board vice-chairman Mark Wasyliw -- and parents are demanding costly improvements that go way, way beyond the status quo.

The word is out since a recent invitation-only meeting for parents councils, trustees, and MLAs that was closed to the general public and media.

"We have to raise taxes, or cut programs, which means job losses," Wasyliw said.

"We're anticipating another three per cent increase" in overall spending just to maintain what the WSD already has, he said.

Last year, provincial funding support was virtually frozen for the WSD, and staff are warning it could be the same this year, Wasyliw said.

"A freeze is as good as a cut," he said.

Given how the province and the division share that overall three per cent increase -- about $11 million -- if the WSD has to carry the load alone, "It's a seven or eight per cent tax increase," said Wasyliw.

That's $112 on a house assessed at a value of $200,000.

But, said Wasyliw, "A lot of our parents want us to improve math. The division has put together a strategy to enhance learning in math."

That carries a price tag, but it's not the heftiest potential addition.

"Our parents want us to put in full-day kindergarten -- we'd need at least $6 million," he said.

Finance chairwoman and budget chief trustee Cathy Collins declined to discuss the budget Tuesday.

"I'm not confirming or denying anything. We will be examining everything in January," she said.

Collins said the WSD will hold its usual public forum on the budget at the end of February, about two weeks before the March 15 deadline for boards to set budgets.

Wasyliw said parents are often surprised to learn WSD pays the entire cost of nursery, as well as breakfast and milk programs for many schools in low-income neighbourhoods. The division pumps in $20 million from property taxes to go above and beyond provincial support for special-needs programs.

The division is undergoing huge growth, especially in its northwest, but with that growth last year, "we only hired 25 teachers to cover off 1,000 (additional students)," Wasyliw said. There is no way to maintain adequate student/teacher ratios without significantly increased hiring.

"We need to find new money, and it's not going to come from the province," Wasyliw declared.

There may be major growth downtown, he said, but that's in economic-development zones where property taxes are deferred as an incentive to build: "We're not going to see any new revenue for 20 years."

Wasyliw and division officials said the WSD does not know how much school property tax it will get from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, or when.

"We don't have an expenditure problem, we have a revenue problem. We need a growth tax -- when the economy expands, we get more money."

But Wasyliw argued the board must be out in the public, engaging residents in policy issues. "I see a shift, that parents are far more political now," he said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 19, 2012 A3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your Vote: The Blue Bombers All-Time Team

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012
  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government be able to censor how Ottawa is portrayed in the CMHR?

View Results

Ads by Google