By Dale Bass
Kamloops This Week
The Kamloops-Thompson board of education held its first public meeting on Monday, March 31, to discuss its 2014-2015 operating budget, which is set at $128.3 million.
While the board met with union representatives representing teachers and staff, the district parent-advisory council and the parent-advisory and school planning councils before the 7 p.m. public meeting, there were no residents at the public meeting.
In fact, the only parent to ask questions was a Clearwater resident who did so via videolink.
Supt. Terry Sullivan said the proposed budget includes some staff reductions, but he knows staff will be added in September. He said it has been board practice to be conservative in estimating the number of teachers and certified education assistants who will be needed.
Sullivan said the public “know what our challenges are.”
The proposed budget is based on numbers provided on Feb. 15 and revenues are projected based on that figure.
Enrolment projections include 20 more kindergarten students than last year, 17 more students in elementary grades and a decrease of 280 students in secondary schools.
The proposed budget shows revenue at $127.5 million. Expenses are $128.3 million, but the board is taking $1.2 million from its operating reserve and another $54,037 from its First Nations reserve to ensure the budget is balanced, as required by provincial legislation.
However, Kelvin Stretch, the school district’s secretary-treasurer, said he is hoping when budget adjustments are made in the fall by the provincial government, based on the actual number of students who are enrolled, there will be enough money the reserves don’t have to be used.
Stretch presented a series of graphs with comparative figures. For example, since 1997, when amalgamation created the larger school district, student enrolment was 17,767. It is budgeted to be 13,693 in 2015.
The number of staff in that time frame decreased to 1,343 from 1,563.
Teaching staff decreased to 738 from 918, while the number of principals and vice-principals dropped to 71 from 79.
There are 29 fewer support staff than the 540 employed in 1997 and just two fewer than the 26 exempt staff that year.
Stretch compared administrative costs with six other districts —
Delta, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, Prince George, Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Chilliwack. The seven-district average expense is $5.2 million, while Kamloops-Thompson’s is $4 million.
Administrative costs of $4 million are below the six-community average of $5.2 million. Only the Chilliwack district’s costs were lower, at $3.8 million.
The same comparative base showed the average salary costs for the principal/vice-principal group totalled $6.6 million among the seven districts, while Kamloops-Thompson came in at $6.9 million.
Class sizes are close to the seven-district average.
Figures in Kamloops, with the seven-district average in brackets, shows kindergarten class size average of 19.5 (19.2), grades 1 to 3, 21.6 (21.2), grades 4 to 7, 25.8 (26.3) and grades 8 to 12, 22.9 (24).