School District 69 (Qualicum) passed its budget bylaw at its April 24 board meeting, amounting to $55,155,040. — NEWS File Photo

SD69 budget passes despite $30,000 contention

District to dip into surplus, but portion for comms work gets questioned

The School District 69 (Qualicum) school board has passed the district budget for the 2018/19 year, with a budget of $55,155,040.

But the bylaw had to first get over a $30,000 stumbling block.

The district plans to dip into its surplus to the tune of $262,619, most of which is to fund three full-time equivalent (FTE) positions to help reach a goal of having extra staffing for Grade 8 classes, as students will have transitioned from elementary school to secondary school.

That money could fund a variety of types of staffing needs, not just teachers, said assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson, and wouldn’t necessarily equate to three positions — the money could fund part-time staff.

However, $30,000 of the total surplus amount was intended for communications work — work that trustees and staff have been talking about funding for several years, superintendent Rollie Koop said at the Tuesday, April 24, board meeting.

“We’re not advocating necessarily for a position,” he said of what the $30,000 could be used for, adding that particular projects could be contracted out, or the money could go to fund advertising initiatives to better communicate to parents and the public what the district and its schools are doing.

Existing staff have been doing this sort of work “off the sides of their desks,” but Koop said that greater expertise on leveraging social media and communications in general is needed.

Trustee Elaine Young said she was in favour of the funding for a number of reasons, and suggested that letting more people know about all the good work that happens at SD69 schools could “draw quality educators,” as the district has trouble replacing people who leave or retire.

“I would rather see that money used directly in the classroom,” said trustee and vice chairperson Julie Austin.

The other trustees weighed in on the money, and ultimately the budget was passed with the $30,000 amount still coming out of the surplus. But it was approved with the understanding that trustees would have further opportunities to discuss what the amount would be used for.

Budget documents show that, of the $55,155,040 budget total, $18.3 million will go to teacher salaries, $2.8 million to principal and vice-principal salaries, $3.44 million for educational assistant salaries and $4.7 million for support staff salaries. For more info on the budget, go to www.sd69.bc.ca/Board/BoardMeetingAgendasMinutes/Pages/default.aspx and click the 2018-04-24 Regular Board Meeting Agenda.

Send story tips to: adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

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