The Kootenay Lake School Board allocated $767,547 of surplus funds at the Tuesday night meeting, with the lion’s share going towards direct services for students and technology and Internet upgrades.
“After soliciting ideas for the allocation of the surplus we’re pleased the committee passed on to the board and then the board approved an allocation that attends to student needs,” said secretary-treasurer Kim Morris.
Earlier in the afternoon, an amendment was discussed that would’ve put $42,000 towards fields and grounds maintenance. The issue received plentiful feedback and discussion before being defeated.
“The reason it was defeated was that the surplus should be used for one-time things and we recognize the fields need more work than that,” said Morris, noting that the money could be built into their renewal budget.
The largest sum of $308,000 comes from the 20 per cent strike savings the district retained before the summer.
“We know the strike impacted students so we want to give 100 per cent of that 20 per cent back to schools so they can provide direct services to the students,” said Morris.
The next largest was $200,547 allocated for Next Generation Network (NGN) readiness, which will allow the school district to take advantage of connectivity upgrades.
“With video streaming and the ubiquity of mobile devices, and with the move towards online learning, the ministry recognizes that our current pipe is too small,” she said.
The Ministry of Education has asked each district to assess their current connections to ascertain what type of hardware and network upgrades are necessary.
“The sooner we can be network-ready, they sooner they’ll move us up the chain with the provincial network upgrade,” she said.
The board also approved a $100,000 chunk for Evergreen, which is a 5-year technology renewal process. Though they are currently in the second year of the cycle, these additional funds will jump the district forward a year.
“This item adds $100,000 to the $200,000 already in the budget. This will enable us to turn our five-year replacement cycle to a four-year cycle,” she said.
This will mean that L.V Rogers Secondary, Adam Robertson Elementary School and South Nelson and South Nelson Elementary School will receive their allocation in 2014-15 rather than 2015-16.
The new five-year cycle will begin in 2017-18.
Morris said one of the most exciting expenditures is for a purchasing coordinator who could ultimately save the district large amounts of money.
Morris said they’re already saving $150,000 a year after finding significant savings involving their paper, photocopier, audit and telephone services. The new position, which is a $40,000 investment for the board, is designed to pay for itself with the savings the coordinator finds. Part of the position will be used to support the IT department.
“They should be able to pay their salary. If for whatever reason they can’t, we’ll either terminate or lay off,” she said.
They are hoping to hire someone for the position by early 2015.
Twenty participants took part in the decision-making process. The group was made up of trustees, principals and vice-principals, stakeholders and senior leadership.
SURPLUS FUNDS BREAKDOWN
$100,000 – Evergreen
$40,000 – Purchasing Coordinator
$308,000 – 20 % Strike Savings to Schools
$50,000 – My Education BC
$10,000 – Tire Balancer
$15,000 – Distributed Learning Third Party Review
$10,000 – Kindergarten Class Early Learning at Blewett
$24,000 – Laserfiche licenses at all sites
$200,547 – NGN Readiness
$10,000 – Board Consultation process
TOTAL – $767,547