Bob Esliger, assistant superintendent with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, speaks at a May 8 education committee meeting. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools passes $164.3M budget

School district decides against reducing number of community school coordinators

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has decided against cutting community school coordinator positions and passed its budget for 2019-20.

According to a district-commissioned community school program review, conducted by Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, community schools are ones that offer vast programming to a number of audiences via co-operation between the school district and partner organizations. In early May, staff suggested to the business committee reducing the number of coordinators to three from five. Changes to qualifications and job responsibilities were also suggested.

The review, released May 23, didn’t explicitly recommend reductions and feedback from community groups favoured current program delivery. Staff decided against the cuts at the district’s regular board meeting in late May and the board subsequently agreed.

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“Because we received the finalized report from the evaluator just recently, and not having enough time to thoroughly digest it, or act upon it, and because we’ve had many excellent conversations and lots of correspondence, I’d like to make the following recommendation [to] … maintain the community school coordinators for another year,” said Bob Esliger, assistant superintendent.

Any proposed changes, Esliger further stated, can be handled by staff in consultation with various partner groups.

The board passed a $164.3-million budget for 2019-20, which staff referred to as a “status quo” budget in the accompanying report. How the community school coordinator positions will be funded is still to be determined, the district told the News Bulletin.

The district anticipates enrolment at 14,383 full-time equivalent students and has budgeted for more than 866 full-time equivalent teachers for next school year, with salaries totalling $67.8 million. More than 293 full-time equivalent educational assistants and 248 support staff are in the budget, with salaries totalling $11.3 million and $11.8 million respectively. A total of $8.4 million has been budgeted for principals and vice-principals for 2019-20 and in all, all salaries for 2019-20 total $109 million and benefits total $27.6 million.

Rob Zver, president of CUPE 606, the union representing community school coordinators, thought the initial decision to cut the positions was rushed, but was happy that his members will have some security.

“I think that’s the right thing to do, as the school district is receiving more funding than they have in the past,” said Zver. “The government is committed to increasing the funding and layoffs shouldn’t be happening when the district’s growing, so I think the trustees made the right choice by maintaining those positions.”

Charlene McKay, school board chairwoman, said the board was excited to find room in the budget to save the positions.

“The work that the community school coordinators do in our schools to support students is really important work,” said McKay. “It helps some of our most vulnerable students, so that was probably the highlight for most of us.”


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