June 17, 2019

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Winnipeg School Division eyes tax increase

Provincial funding fails to keep up with spending

WSD trustee Mike Babinsky and board finance chairwoman Sherri Rollins.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

WSD trustee Mike Babinsky and board finance chairwoman Sherri Rollins.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/2/2015 (1594 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg School Division trustees are eying a 2.9 per cent property tax increase to avoid cuts -- but they also have a wish list that would boost taxes by another 2.3 per cent.

And they're considering spending $5.1 million of their surplus on other programs and one-time purchases.

That total spending package, including the wish list, would be about a $78 increase in education property taxes on a home assessed at a value of $200,000.

The draft budget includes continuing a full-day kindergarten pilot project in four schools, but not expanding it to any additional schools in September.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/2/2015 (1594 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg School Division trustees are eying a 2.9 per cent property tax increase to avoid cuts — but they also have a wish list that would boost taxes by another 2.3 per cent.

And they're considering spending $5.1 million of their surplus on other programs and one-time purchases.

That total spending package, including the wish list, would be about a $78 increase in education property taxes on a home assessed at a value of $200,000.

The draft budget includes continuing a full-day kindergarten pilot project in four schools, but not expanding it to any additional schools in September.

Secretary-treasurer Rene Appelmans told the board this week the division will receive a 1.4 per cent increase in provincial funding, below the overall two per cent increase Education Minister Peter Bjornson announced last week.

And, said Appelmans, without a substantial increase in equalization payments for divisions whose property values are not doing as well as some other divisions, the increase would have been virtually zero.

Only St. James-Assiniboia fared worse than WSD in assessment growth this year. The other four city divisions had growth three to six times higher, adding new taxpayers to share the tax burden. For example, Pembina Trails grew six times more than WSD.

"The division spends far more than what is provided," Appelmans said.

Salaries will rise by at least $7,062,700 and benefits by $740,600.

Board chairman Mark Wasyliw said WSD has taken a big hit on special-needs education — the province's support for Level 2 students who require a classroom aide is down 8.2 per cent.

"How many actual lives are being affected?" Wasyliw asked.

Said finance chairwoman Sherri Rollins: "I'm quite hot under the collar on this negative 8.2 per cent."

Trustee Mike Babinsky challenged trustees to throw the problem back at the provincial government instead of picking up the costs of provincial off-loading of responsibility.

"You've got to send the message back by cutting back, not paying the bill — we should put the shortfall back on their plate," Babinsky said.

Before hearing from the public at a Feb. 23 budget forum, trustees have already put 17 proposals on their wish list worth close to $3 million, all of which would have to be covered by property taxes.

They include limiting class sizes in nursery for $690,000, hiring an aboriginal elder for $80,000 and a policy-program analyst for $80,000, and helping students transition from the youth justice system back to school for $353,300.

Trustee Cathy Collins told the board Monday night: "Just because things come forward doesn't mean we're going to approve them."

The draft budget does not contain some of the ideas new trustees have already raised, such as livestreaming public meetings and archiving them online.

The reserve-fund spending proposals include $1.5 million for preparation of a possible school in the Waterford Green housing development in the northwest, $600,000 for clinical support and $1.2 million for Wi-Fi improvements.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 8:16 AM CST: Corrects spelling of École, formats sidebar, replaces photo

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