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Kootenay Lake seeking online input into next year’s school budget

The Kootenay Lake school board and their finance committee are seeking input to help guide decisions about the development of the 2014 to 2015 budget — all in an online process - file photo
The Kootenay Lake school board and their finance committee are seeking input to help guide decisions about the development of the 2014 to 2015 budget — all in an online process
— image credit: file photo

You don’t have to leave the comforts of home to have your say on next year’s school budget.

The Kootenay Lake school board and their finance committee are seeking input to help guide decisions about the development of the 2014 to 2015 budget — all in an online process.

Until now, the board and finance committee has relied on input by stakeholders sitting around the discussion table. Superintendent Jeff Jones says this survey is about opening up a dialogue among that extends to the entire district.

“People want to share their voice,” he says. “It forms another perspective and enriches the process, I think.”

The call for input went out on Wednesday with a link to a Thoughtstream survey emailed out through schools and the District Parent Advisory Council. Jones said within two hours, 70 people had participated and as of Friday morning, there were just shy of 150 participants.

The Thoughtstream process (found at http://thotstr.ca/YfLDnkcTFLZN) has two parts. First people are asked to give thoughts and ideas on the 2014 to 2015 budget. Then, after the Friday, February 21 deadline, participants are asked to have a look at what others wrote and prioritize or rank the ideas.

Participation is anonymous with names not shared with other participants, the board or the finance committee.

While this is the first time the budget question has been thrown out to the public in an online format, Jones has been working toward engaging through technology since arriving to the district four years ago — first starting with school administrators and last staff had a new question asked weekly.

Jones says using technology helps to not only share information with the public, through websites, Facebook and Twitter, but also helps in seeking input from a wider population on a number of issues. Earlier this month, parents and staff were asked when they would like to see March break scheduled in 2015. There were about 800 responses from staff and parents.

“We recognize we need to reach out more broadly,” he said. “Although we have stakeholder representatives on each board committee — parent representatives, union representatives, principal representatives — people have still expressed to me they welcome the opportunity to voice their own opinions and give input.”

Using survey software such as SurveyMonkey and Thoughtstream, the public is brought into the boardroom

“We’re getting more effective at using digital technology,” said Jones.

 

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