Homeowners within the Pembina Trails School Division (PTSD) will see an increase in their taxes following the approval of its latest budget.
The average home in the Pembina Trails School Division — valued at $371,556 — will see a property tax increase of $78 or four per cent, on the average home after the division’s 2014-15 budget was approved March 12.
Total expenditures in the budget total more than $153.7 million an increase of 3.9 per cent from last year’s total of more than $148 million.
Ted Fransen, superintendent of education at PTSD, said the board determined how much to increase expenditures, and ultimately the tax increase, after careful consideration to the needs of the division.
"I think everyone has to decide for themselves if that’s reasonable," Fransen said. "I know that Pembina Trails has an excellent educational program for its students. This is what it takes to continue to provide that excellent program."
Fransen said the most important thing that had to change this year was determined by feedback from students and staff.
"Students as well as teachers and administrators said to the board that the class size in our high schools is too large," Fransen said. "So the board listened to that and added some extra staffing to high schools to reduce the class size in high schools."
The division staffs classrooms using a senior years divisor, which is a standard for measuring student to teacher ratios. This year, the board changed the divisor to a rate of 22.7 students per teacher, down from 23.2, allowing the board to bring four more teachers in, Fransen said.
The budget allocates more than $114.6 million for salaries, up from more than $110.5 million.
Fransen said the school division is a people business, so the major changes always relate to how it will affect people.
"For example we created a full-day kindergarten at Ralph Maybank (Elementary School)," Fransen said. "Pembina Trails right now has one full-day kindergarten at Westgrove Primary School, so you might say we’re doubling our number, now we have two next year."
The operating fund for the Smaller Classes Initiative (K-3) is $610,619, and the Early Childhood Development Initiative, a program set up by the Province of Manitoba to allow schools to provide intersectoral services for preschool children (aged birth to five), will receive $153,895.
Another large aspect of the budget will go towards transportation costs in Waverley West.
"We have no schools in Waverley West and yet Waverley West continues to grow," Fransen said. "So that means we need to bus more students to existing schools in Fort Garry. That just simply means we need more bus routes."
This year’s budget calls for a transportation operating fund of more than $2.6 million, up from last year’s budget of over $2.4 million.
Pembina Trails School division has 33 schools, 12,829 students, 996 teachers, and a total of 1,777 employees.