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School divisions balance revenue, costs in 2014-15 budgets

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La Salle School is located in the Seine River School Division.

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La Salle School is located in the Seine River School Division. Photo Store

Red River Valley School Division

Red River Valley SD superintendent Pauline Lafond-Bouchard said the division is drawing on its surplus to cover one-time costs budgeted for 2014-15.

Lafond-Bouchard said, based on a house with a $100,000 assessed value, education taxes will increase by about $67 or 8.9% from last year. This amount will differ among the 12 municipalities that lie within the RRVSD’s boundaries.  

The province is reassessing property values this year, so it is difficult to accurately come up with the anticipated hike in education tax for ratepayers in the RM of Macdonald.

The RRVSD’s budgeted total revenues for 2014-15 come to over $26.8 million compared to over $25.9 million in 2013-14. Total expenses for 2014-15 are just over $27 million compared to $26.3 million in 2013-14.

Major changes expected in the coming school year include employing a half-time numeracy coach, additional funds for professional development, increased costs to maintain the division’s buildings, property and infrastructure, and extra funding for technology development and school readiness projects.

Lafond-Bouchard said trustees support continuing to offer students extra-curricular activities, such as school clubs.

"There was lots of (student) interest in these," she said.

One of the school readiness projects is underway at Sanford’s J.A. Cuddy School to help prepare local children to enter kindergarten in September.

Salaries total over $19.7 million and make up over 78% of the total 2014-15 expenses.

A forecast shows divisional enrolment dropping by about 50 students in 2014-15 to 1,974, with about 20 fewer attending Sanford Collegiate, bringing the school’s enrolment to 297.

Prairie Rose School Division

Enrolment in Prairie Rose School Division is projected to increase by 43 students in the 2014-15 school year, according to a public budget presentation, with nine more children attending École St. Eustache.

PRSD secretary-treasurer Agnes Gaultier said the higher enrolment means two more teachers will be hired.

Gaultier said the owner of a house assessed at $150,000 will see an increase of about $24 on their 2014 education tax bill.

Salaries total 73.7% of the PRSD’s expenses, with the remaining 25% paying for transportation, maintenance, building operations and administration.

PRSD received about $19,900 more in provincial funding than was received for 2013-14. Provincial funding makes up approximately 62% of the 2014-15 budget revenue with almost 36% coming from municipalities.

Public consultations were held within the division, with one in St. Eustache. Gaultier said division administrators and trustees received good feedback at the sessions.
"They may be better for long-term planning," she added.

Seine River School Division

Homeowners within the Seine River School Division will see an average rise of 3.65% in their education taxes, according to information from the division.

This means the education portion of a tax bill for a house assessed at $241,000 will be about $55 higher.

The division’s 2014-15 budget of over $46 million is approximately 7.75% higher than for the 2013-14 school year. More money is being spent on adding two teachers to reach the provincial government’s mandated student/teacher ratio of 20:1 in kindergarten to Grade 3, four teachers for literacy and numeracy programs, a half-time speech-language pathologist, $390,000 to upgrade schools’ bandwidth and wireless access for technological development and $190,000 to support students’ extra-curricular activities.

Provincial funding for 2014-15 is up by over $1.6 million, 6.5% higher than 2013-14. The 2013-14 funding was over $24.9 million and the projected funding for 2014-15 is just over $26.5 million.

Interlake School Division

Enrolment in Rosser School is holding steady at about 55 students, said Interlake School Division superintendent Ross Metcalfe, and the school has an approximately 19:1 student/teacher ratio.

An average home in the division is assessed at about $290,000, and the home owner will see their 2014 education tax amount increase by $102.56 over the 2013 rate. This is an increase of approximately 6.84%.

Metcalfe calls the division’s 2014-15 budget "status quo", but said the division received no provincial funding increase. Salaries comprise 77.83% of the total 2014-15 expenses.

Even though the trustees agreed to make cuts to the maintenance costs, reduce professional development funding, take $95,000 from money set aside for technological expenditures, and not add to the school bus fleet, it was tough to balance revenues with expenses, Metcalfe said.

"It still means that taxes go up," he said.

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