Campbell River school district budget adds more than it subtracts

Board of education gave three readings last week to a budget that includes $19,500 worth of savings and a $389,500 draw on reserves

School District 72 approved its preliminary operating budget for this year – a budget with more additions than deletions.

The board of education gave three readings last week to a budget that includes $19,500 worth of savings and a $389,500 draw on reserves, which is similar to a savings account, in order to add to the budget.

Going into budget planning, which took place at a special school board meeting May 7, trustees were faced with an $89,000 deficit for the 2013/14 school year.

The board cut that figure down by reducing postage meter costs of $15,000 by moving to electronic payments instead of a leased postage machine and the centralized purchasing of office supplies.

The budget also includes $4,500 worth of cost updates, to bring the total savings to $19,500.

Additions made to the budget include: $150,000 for the replacement of technology equipment in schools; $30,000 to replace school shop tools with modern tools used in the workforce; $30,000 for an increase in learning resources to support the purchase of special education resources, software purchasing and district software license cost increases; $25,000 towards continuation of elementary technology support teachers; $20,000 for policy review and implementation; $15,000 for development and production of the next five-year Strategic Plan; $30,000 for a facility review to identify the appropriate use of buildings; $10,000 to restore the district’s health and wellness program for employees; and $10,000 to reverse a previous two per cent cut to maintenance supply accounts.

The school district’s budget was formed with input from the District Parent Advisory Committee, parents, school principals, district leadership, and budget function committees which are made up of representatives from the Campbell River District Teachers’ Association, CUPE, the local principals’ and vice-principals’ association, and the senior management team.

Through meetings between those groups, several priorities were identified.

High priority items included more student supervisors.

Teachers expressed that the reconfiguration (adding Grade 9 to the high schools and moving Grade 6 students to the middle schools) led to a decrease in supervision for kindergarten students.

When schools tried to remedy the problem, administrative staff had difficulty meeting with the teachers.

Teachers also identified a literacy teacher as a high priority as reading results in the local school district have not been great in the past few years.

Other high priority items included increasing an elementary school counsellor position to full-time, hiring elementary tech support teachers, increasing the IT budget for hardware replacement in the classroom, as well as a Strategic Facility Review.