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WSD passes budget that includes math software, extra teachers

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Winnipeg School Division trustees have passed the division’s budget for the 2013-14 school year, which makes room for more staff and resources for students.

The division saw less than a one per cent increase in funding from the province, to the tune of $1.05-million, for a total of over $175-million in provincial funding. Provincial funding comprises 63% of the revenue the division receives, with property taxes constituting the second highest source of revenue.

According to a release issued by the division, the board "focused its efforts in areas that would not directly affect students in the classroom," in finding cost reductions.

The board eventually brought down costs by over $2.6-million for a budget totalling $365-million, up 2.45% over last year.

Remote diagnostics for computer problems by Information Technologists and a fibre-optic network to eliminate reliance on outside phone service produced savings.

Taxes in the division are going up slightly, with the average home seeing an increase of $6 per month.

Included in this year’s total expenditures of over $365-million are additional teaching staff to maintain class sizes at the provincially-mandated level of approximately 20 students.

"The province passed an act that said we had to reduce class sizes down to 20," said board finance chair Cathy Collins.
"We had five years to initiate it, now we’re in year two."

Computer-based math supports for elementary students are also included in the budget.
"It’s to purchase a program called DreamBox. Some of the classroom have computers in them, so the teacher can teach in one section and the kids can go over and use the computer," Collins said.

"We wanted to install (the software) and buy licences for it. We’re going to spend $57,000."
Collins said the division will also be undertaking multiple routine repairs to division buildings all around the city.

"We have a lot of buildings and a lot of them are very old. Some of the things we have to do are energy management improvements," Collins explained.

"Upgrading lighting, repairing windows. We may have roof leaks, we have building envelopes. There’s elevator upgrades, vocational equipment. There’s also cafeteria upgrades... It’s routine. Technology changes, and some of the things we’re doing will pay us back.

"We may spend the money, but we’ll have lower heating costs."

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