Kootenay Lake school staffing concerns voiced, addressed

Senior administrators urge trustee patience during ‘fluid’ September enrollment period.

Superintendent Jeff Jones believes concerns about the district's staffing levels are premature

Concerns about staffing levels in the Kootenay Lake school district have been raised by teachers, trustees and community members but senior administrators are urging everyone to have patience during the “fluid” September enrolment period.

“What we know is in its operational budget the board approved us to have 240 full-time-equivalent teachers,” superintendent Jeff Jones told the Star. “What we find, though, is a lot of principals hold some of those staffing decisions back until September so they can see who actually arrives at the door.”

Trustee Sharon Nazaroff requested information on staffing and enrollment levels between this year and last year at Tuesday night’s meeting to address concerns she’s been hearing from parents. And though these concerns have been raised repeatedly in the past few months, including at a board meeting earlier in the year, Jones believes the fears are premature.

“Some schools will be upped staff, and some will be down staff. But we’re budgeted for the same level. This will be something to watch through the month, and on Sept. 30 we’ll have more information.”

The provincial government bases educational funding on Sept. 30 enrollment numbers each year, so human resources director Deanna Holitzki said trustees and parents should wait for that final number before reacting. Currently many students are on waitlists, while others may have unexpectedly moved districts or schools.

“I have teachers in my [area] who haven’t been laid off but also haven’t been assigned a class,” rural Creston trustee Cody Beebe told the board, but Holitzki said that should be addressed shortly.

She also noted there are currently 16 open CUPE postings, 11 due to recent leaves of absence.

“Our staffing is a constantly moving target,” she said.

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