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Consultant for Prince Rupert School District paid $800 per day plus expenses for services

Documents obtained by the Prince Rupert Northern View show the Prince Rupert School District has been paying consultant Dave Stigant $800 per day for work done over the past several years, as well as paying $500 per month for Stigant's rent while he was in Prince Rupert.

The information was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Prince Rupert and District Teacher's Union, and it shows well over $125,000 was spent for services over the course of 14 months. Between September 2010 and December 2011, the Prince Rupert School District paid out $128,859 to Dave Stigant Professional Services Inc. for services rendered, which averages out to $9,204 per month. In addition to the daily rate and nine months of rent at $500 per month Stigant, who also served as acting superintendent from March 1 to July 31, 2009, was paid airfare from Penticton to Prince Rupert on three occasions.

The additional expenses and taxes added up, meaning in some cases the District paid over $1,000 per day. For example, in September 2010 Stigant worked 15.79 days and the total invoice amount was $15,832 and in November 2010 Stigant worked 8.74 days and the total invoice paid was $9,133.

“From my perspective it is not an unreasonable wage... I frequently see consultants charge $1,000 per day or more for this kind of work,” said Prince Rupert School District secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre, adding that the payment of rent was a cost-saving measure.

“If you look at the number of days he was here during the month, the amount paid for rent is actually less than if he were to be in a hotel. Any more than eight or nine days and it is cheaper for an apartment than a hotel room.”

However, Prince Rupert and District Teacher's Union president Joanna Larson said there is no reason for the payments.

“I think this is absolutely ridiculous. We don't require a consultant, we have upped the staff in the board office and there is just no justifiable reason to hire a consultant for $800 per day. If you look at the wages of a teacher or a child care worker in the district, this amount is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

“It comes down to the choices you make with the money you have, and I don't think these are the right choices.”

As well, a contract between the board and Stigant to serve as Acting Director of Human Resources outlines an $800 per day salary while on the job, a rate prorated for part days. The contract also stipulates that the School District reimburse Stigant for “all reasonable expenses incurred in the discharge of his duties” and reimburse him for “travel to and from Prince Rupert and accommodation and meals in Prince Rupert”. The contract was to run from Feb. 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012, following the departure of director of instruction Marcy Van Koughnett.

But the invoices show payments continued once the contract expired. In July and August, 2012, Stigant invoiced the district for $7,768.31 and in September the invoice amounted to $6,044.85. According to McIntyre, Stigant still plays a big role in the district.

“He continues to provide consulting advice in regards to human resource manners... Kathy Gomez is now the Human Resources director, but she came from outside of the education system so Mr. Stigant is providing consulting and helping her with some of what is unique in the education system. He is also working on some of the cases where the union is filing complaints or seeking arbitration, and it is much less expensive to have him do the work than it would be for legal counsel,” said McIntyre.

“We believe it is value for the money.”

But Larson said the fact that there is a human resources director gives less credence to the need to retain Mr. Stigant.

“We have never had a dedicated human resources position in the district, so it is more unreasonable to have that position filled and still pay a consultant $800 per day for their service,” she said, while also taking issue with how Stigant has worked with the union.

“Since this person has come, because of labour management, it has led to the increase in legal fees. We have the second highest amount in the province in terms of administration expenses going toward legal services.”

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