Greywolf Elementary School first-grader Shaye Ball, seated in Leigh Ann Koenig’s classroom, is at work on her assignment by 8:32 a.m. Photo by Patsene Dashiell

Suggestions sought on school surplus spending

Surpluses at the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District are a sensitive topic.

It was the discovery by parents that surplus funds were being directed towards the construction of the school district’s new administration building that sparked considerable outrage and ultimately played a part in the dismissal of the previous school board.

Now the school district is looking at what it should do with a $360,000 surplus from the previous year’s budget. The school district routinely has surpluses because they are required by the province to have a balanced budget each year, therefore, budgets are prepared conservatively.

Discussions about what to do with this surplus funding are in the preliminary stages, with senior staff issuing some recommendations, however a Salmon Arm mother and education advocate, is encouraging other parents to share their views.

Jennifer Henrie is pointing out that some of the items are not focused on direct student services.

At a meeting with the District Parents Advisory Council, nine recommendations from staff were submitted.

”Of those nine recommendations, only two are direct-student focused: $169,000 on increased certified education assistant time and $20,000 for school psychologist (to do psychoeducational assessments),” she wrote in a Facebook post to various educational groups in the district.

“The other recommendations are as follows: $100,000 for new curriculum training for teachers,$30,000 for itinerant teacher laptops, $15,000 for Carlin librarian position, $8,000 to allow all vice-principals to attend principal meetings (as opposed to taking turns/shifting off), $7,500 emergency procedures program, $7,500 My Blueprint – Education Outreach Program software and $6,900 (ongoing subscription) for “Permission Click”, software to facilitate permission/field trip forms, meal programs, fundraising etc.”

Henrie points out some other student service items did not make the recommendation list including literacy intervention funding for the school district’s middle schools.

“The tween/teens that need these literacy programs are kids who are not reading at grade level. They are kids who may have already missed out on early intervention,” noted Henrie.

Other requests on the cutting room floor included behaviour consultant, chairs and desks, more education assistant support (total request was $240,000: only $169,000 recommended), more psych-ed assessments ($40,000 requested: only $20,000 recommended), numeracy support, outdoor awesome, Ed Tech Support. Some other areas of need, such as speech and language, were not on the request list this time.

It will be a few weeks before the issue is voted on by official trustee Mike McKay and Henrie suggests parents email any concerns or opinions to the school district to trusteefeedback@sd83.bc.ca.