Opinion

Prince Rupert School District doesn't need an $800 per day consultant

Two weeks ago I told BC Ferries not to expect pity from the taxpayers of Prince Rupert for claiming financial hardship while paying some hefty salaries.

But it seems, claiming financial hardship while making hefty payments isn’t isolated to crown corporations based in the Lower Mainland, it’s happening here in Prince Rupert at the School District office on 6th Avenue East.

For the majority of the time I have been in Prince Rupert the Prince Rupert School District has been lamenting the funding cuts by the provincial government and how that is money being taken out of the classroom for the benefit of students. There have been reductions in the district’s budget while trying to do a lot with a little.

All the while, at least for the better part of the past two years, the district has been retaining the services of Dave Stigant as a consultant at a rate of $800 per day. For an eight hour day it works out to $100 per hour, and if Mr. Stigant were to work a regular 40 hour work week at this salary the district would be paying him $4,000 per week and a staggering $208,000 per year.

And that is to say nothing of the rent, airfare, cell phone and other expenses being invoiced to the district.

To put this in perspective, Superintendent Lynn Hauptman received $138,737 for the fiscal year ending June 2011 and Secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre made $121,155. Keep in mind that these are full time people working at the office every day who are responsible for every aspect of district operation.

Between September 2010 and June 2011 Dave Stigant, a part-time consultant, was paid $76,752 for his services. That figure does not include expenses or travel.

Let’s face it, if you’re making over $76,000 for 10 months of work, you better be top of the food chain with a whole lot of responsibility on your plate and a whole lot of people under your umbrella so to speak. I find it hard to justify paying a part-time consultant that much money.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see how the expertise of a consultant may be needed from time to time at great expense to deal with special circumstances that arise. But when “from time to time” turns into two years it’s time to re-examine your operation.

So, to the school district, I say it’s time to re-examine your operations. Someone who has been with you for two years isn’t a consultant, they’re an employee. And in this case the employee is being paid way too much money by an organization that is talking about the tough financial times they are facing and the effect that is having on the students of the north coast.

You can’t complain about money being taken out of the classroom and be paying this much money for this long to a consultant.

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