School district’s vehicle policy under review

District #83 Board: Trustee Larissa Lutjen says criticism distracts from real issue.

The school district will be forming a committee to review its vehicle policy after the District Parent Advisory Council expressed concerns about the expense and use of school district vehicles.

“We are going to be looking into this, into the contracts and what’s included and things like that,” said board chair Bobbi Johnson at the May 12 school board meeting.

In April, the DPAC took the board to task, saying many school board vehicles are too extravagant for the need, are not properly identified as school district property and are being used inappropriately for personal purposes.

“F150 Platinum Ford trucks at a cost of $60,000 for management personnel are not necessary. Small commuter vehicles economical on fuel should suffice for getting staff around our district. Further, SD83 vehicles should not be available for personal use on weekends and or vacations to haul boats or trailers with,” says the DPAC report.

The issue struck a nerve with some trustees, who took the opportunity at the board meeting to share their views.

North Shuswap trustee Larissa Lutjen said the criticism over this issue was overblown in comparison to its financial impact. She said the purchase of eight vehicles, at an average of $27,000 each, is far less important than the fact the government eliminated $360,000 from the district’s budget in one year and continues to underfund the education system.

“Yes, we will be responsible in the future, but this was not fair criticism. And it distracts from where the focus of our criticism should be.”

Board chair Bobbi Johnson also took aim at the issue, saying if people have concerns they should come directly to the board, rather than the media.

“It was a shock to find this in the paper. If someone came to us with a concern, we’d look into it. This year we talked to more employees, more parents than ever, so it was difficult to find this out in the paper, on the radio and TV. It’s easier for us to work on it.”

The school board was presented with the DPAC report, including the concerns about vehicle expenses, at a private meeting with school trustees and administration prior to it being released to the Observer.

Following the budget meeting, Kari Wilkinson, president of the DPAC, says the group has been asking for months for greater transparency on expense matters.

“The DPAC has still made it clear we want accountability and transparency in all areas, and the vehicles is one of them.”

The situation may be complicated to resolve as there appears to be a number of ways vehicle use is handled for different employees in the school district.

A budget report to the board states: “Issues related to employee vehicle use and expenses will need to be reviewed as part of a compensation review as these issues are often part of an employee’s compensation package and employment contract.”

Just Posted

Canada geese in the Shuswap: Beautiful milfoil eaters or poopy pests?

Numbers of geese increasing in the Shuswap to the joy of some people and dismay of others

Salmon Arm’s Sebastien Archambault joins Humboldt Broncos

Defenceman played last two seasons with Junior B Sicamous Eagles

Shuswap artists invited to bring the noise

Sound machine exhibit planned for Salmon Arm Art Gallery in 2020

Salmon Arm thrift stores temporarily refuse donations to keep up with glut

Too much stuff for storage space, staff shortage, main reasons for sporadic closures

CSRD to assess rural Sicamous, South Shuswap housing needs

UBCM to provide $33,000 through 2019 Housing Needs Reports initiative

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Vancouver Island father says he attempted suicide a month before murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Okanagan Rail Ride gathering steam ahead of inaugural race

The ride is a non-competitive event celebrating the Okanagan Rail Trail

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Musaic Vocal Ensemble seeks additional voices

Summerland-based choir has performed for past 25 years

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Concerts, workshops and more will be held in Summerland Aug 24 to Sept. 1

The Ryga Arts Festival, which runs Aug. 24 to Sept. 1 in… Continue reading

Most Read