School District 73 is looking to improve mental-health services, enhance students’ numeracy skills and manage enrolment growth as it drafts the 2019-2020 budget.
Speaking at a public budget meeting last Thursday night, school board chair Kathleen Karpuk said this is the first time “in recent history” in which the budget isn’t being driven by cuts.
“This budget has been driven by priorities set by the board and because we actually have a little bit of money this year beyond our basics, we have been able to focus on those strategic priorities,” Karpuk said.
SD73 plans to add another school and family consultant, a part-time healthy relationships co-ordinator and a full-time assistant manager for custodial staff to its operating budget for 2019-2020.
Karpuk said maintenance staff work as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m.
“And you only have one manager covering an eight-hour shift, which means there’s people in schools alone who don’t have anybody they can call in case of an emergency,” Karpuk said. “This will ensure there’s always somebody around for them to call if something happens.”
Karpuk told KTW adding another full-time school and family consultant will help address youth mental-heath challenges, noting the healthy relationships co-ordinator was a recommendation from the superintendent’s task force on student safety.
Additional teacher release time and resources for math teachers is also among the district’s priorities.
“We’re going to be putting on more workshops and more focused professional development with our teachers on numeracy,” Karpuk said.
Three Aboriginal education teachers will now be funded from the district’s operating budget, freeing up more dollars in the Aboriginal education targeted fund.
The district plans to hire a full-time web technician to look after its intranet and a part-time project manager to assist with the addition of new portables, repurposing classroom spaces and the re-opening of Westsyde elementary.
Key budget initiatives for SD73 are to improve outcomes in numeracy, communication and Aboriginal success and address increasing enrolment and mental-health issues.
The 2019-2020 budget is projected to be $181 million, compared to the $182.5 million the 2018-2019 amended budget. The operating budget is projected to be about $154 million — $1 million more than what it was in 2018-2019’s final amended budget.
Trina Cassidy, finance director for SD73, said the district will allocate more than $162,000 into operating the re-opened Westsyde elementary. There will be required increases in the operating budget, such as more than $2 million more in salary for its employee groups — including more than $1 million for teachers.
Another $200,000 will be spent on other increased costs, such as utilities and employee benefits.
Cassidy said prep time for elementary school teachers is increasing from 100 minutes per week to 110 minutes per week.
On the capital side of the budget, which is an estimated $9.64 million, SD73 is budgeting $648,000 for more portables.
The district will have a bit more in per student funding from the province at brick and mortar schools.
For the 2017-2018 school year, per student funding was $7,301. In 2018-2019, it was $7,42. In 2019-2020, it will be $7,468.
The Kamloops-Thompson is among the 12 fastest-growing districts in B.C., said secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch, citing a chart listing percentage of growth in funded FTE among the 60 districts for the 2018-2019 school year.
The district is among the 10 fastest-growing districts in the province, according to SD73.