The Kootenay Lake school board will funnel more than $600,000 of a $734,000 budget surplus towards staffing, a decision reached by consensus this week.
“We’re really starting to understand how to add in one place and take from another in a respectful and democratic way,” secretary-treasurer Kim Morris told the Star, noting the finance and operations committee met remotely and in-person three times between Nov. 24 and Dec. 8 to hash out the details.
“What I like about this is over $600,000 will be provided for staffing, which should address, among other things, the secondary school pressures around second semester courses.”
Earlier this year concerns were raised by parents and community members about staffing levels at L.V. Rogers and Prince Charles Secondary, which some deemed a cause of the “registration chaos” that took place in September. The board has allocated $247,674 to directly address this.
An additional $110,326 will go towards “transformational” learning. That means teachers who want to take on innovative new projects in or outside their classrooms will have some financial backing to do so.
“We’re looking for opportunities to create cross-curricular, multi-age learning environments that promote deep inquiry into global issues,” superintendent Jeff Jones said.
“It could be a cohort of students working together for several months on a project, or it might be a teacher with an interest in expanding their opportunities for students but doesn’t have the resources.”
Two pieces of software in the district — Smart Find Express and MyEdBC — will also receive additional funds, with the former receiving $7,500 and the latter getting $8,050.
Both systems have caused implementation challenges for the district this year.
Morris said a number of possibilities for surplus allocation didn’t make the cut, such as a $50,000 IT assessment supported by the district parent advisory committee.
“We were considering hiring a third party provider to do a voluntary audit or assessment, but now that won’t be done,” Morris said, noting administration didn’t include it in their plan because their community survey results showed little interest in it.
“We’re still trying to find money to do that assessment anyways, maybe this year, because it’s an important move towards creating next year’s budget,” said Morris. “We’ll learn what our needs and gaps are.”
The funds will also cover a sixth computer technician, who will work as part of the tech team until at least the end of June. The roles of that position includes providing technical support for teachers and administration while assisting with the roll-out of the Evergreen technology renewal program.
Another $78,267 will ensure schools with declining enrollment will receive the same level of funding.
The $41,650 earmarked for Clerical Plan A will keep clerical hours stable for those schools that had declining enrollment and will add hours to those schools that had increased enrollment.
Morris said the surplus allocation championed by the parent advisory council had a lot in common with the administration’s version, and after some money-swapping and horse-trading they came up with a happy medium.
“I’m elated at the commonality between the two proposals that were brought to the committee meeting, and the input from other committee members as well,” said Morris.
Trustees were similarly effusive about the result. “All of this work was done by consensus. I’m proud of our hard work,” said Rebecca Huscroft.
Appropriated surplus 2014-15:
Smart Find Express – $7,500
Computer Tech – $78,267
Clerical Plan A – $41,650
Transformational staffing – $110, 326
Staffing resources for migration/immigration – $100,000
Highest priority operations and work orders – $102,354
Economic stability – $25,183
Work Flow Discovery (Red Binder) – $5,000
Work Flow Discovery (A/Pay) – $5,000
MyEdBC clerical support – $8,050
Staffing needs for remainder of 2015/16 – $247,674