The Kootenay Lakes School Board has passed its preliminary budget.

Preliminary budget passed by Kootenay Lake School Board

The Kootenay Lake School District is focusing on gaps in student achievement as it passed its preliminary budget this month.

The Kootenay Lake School District is focusing on gaps in student achievement as it passed its preliminary budget this month.

Areas needing attention include a gender gap, non-completion, transitions, critical thinking skills, poverty, social and emotional well being, and early identification of at risk literacy and numeracy, says a release issued by the district.

“The preliminary budget supports the district in a coherent alignment of resources, reflects the input of many stakeholder groups, and provides support for early learning, district-wide initiatives to attend to the gaps we have identified and a continued effort to build the capacity of our staff to attend to changing student needs,” reads the release.

The board of education passed the preliminary budget for their 2013 to 2014 school year at their May 7 meeting.

Required by law to submit a balanced budget to the Ministry of Education, the process is “ongoing and extensive,” says the district.

Input coming from District Parent Advisory Committee, CUPE and Kootenay Lake Teachers Federation along with nine trustees as part of the finance committee contributed to the preliminary budget.

“We would like to express our appreciation to each of these individuals for their participation in over 25 meetings, and many data gathering exercises, and debates,” reads the release.

Some highlights of the preliminary budget include increasing support for early learning and a greater degree of flexibility for how funds are used in schools.

A total of $458,500 has been committed for teacher, noon-hour supervisor and education assistant time, and the purchase of assistive technology where required. These funds will also support the continuation of the Read by Three initiative in the district. And $565,855 Community Links dollars continue to be focused on attending to the specific needs of vulnerable learners.

Human resource issues will be addressed through an effort to maintain current levels of teacher staffing despite projected declines in enrolment of 144 students.

“A reduction of five full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff throughout the district is included in the budget, rather than a reduction of six or more FTE that could have been contemplated,” says the district. “Over the next few months we will be adding back in staffing for targeted funds, such as Aboriginal education, English language learners, and staffing through the Learning Improvement Fund.”

Clerical staff in schools and board office will be reduced throughout the district as well.

The school board says they recognize the importance of responsibly maintaining their capital investments, and making further investments in areas where they are challenged.

They’ve allocated $200,000 to the Technology Evergreen Fund for enhanced work and learning technology.

The operations crew will see $78,818 to address aging and deteriorating facilities and support learning environments for students.

The district’s vehicle fleet will get an $80,000 investment and aging shop equipment throughout the district will be addressed through $82,100 in funding.

“The preliminary budget provides important direction for the district, and is an important aspect of ongoing conversations relative to the allocation of our resources to meet student need,” they say.

The final budget will be submitted to the Ministry of Education in February 2014.

For more information about the budget visit their website at: sd8.bc.ca.