WINNIPEG School Division homeowners are looking at a 6.8 per cent increase in education property taxes.
That's $72 on an average home assessed at a value of $149,000, finance chairwoman Cathy Collins said Wednesday afternoon.
The draft budget of $367.8 million is "status quo, pretty much," Collins said. "We're just trying to preserve what we had."
Collins said the division qualified for only a 0.6 per cent increase in provincial operating grants. "Last year we were flat" at no increase, she noted.
Trustees want to avoid digging into reserves to reduce the tax hit, having only 1.5 per cent of revenues left in the division's surplus.
The division has found $2.6 million in savings in administration and its online and phone systems, but wants to improve its math resources for students, Collins said.
"We're making some investments in trying to improve our online math," responding to parents' calls for any help with math the division can give their kids, she said.
"We want to talk to the public about staggering bus times. We could save about $500,000" by operating fewer buses, but on more than one route, she said. Some other divisions have cut spending that way.
The division is maintaining its nursery program, financed entirely by property taxes, and is employing the same number of teachers despite a slight drop in enrolment, Collins said.
Trustees will hold a public budget forum Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at the school board office and will likely pass the budget March 4.
Education Minister Nancy Allan announced funding increases of $27.2 million last week, or 2.3 per cent, in the province's share of funding public education.
However, 16 divisions will receive no increase over last year.
Because the cost of operating public schools has been rising by $65 million to $75 million each year, school boards face a choice of increasing education property taxes or making significant cuts to jobs, programs and services.
School boards must set their budgets by March 15.