School district studies its $125-million budget

Lower enrolment means teacher layoffs and implemenation of the seniority-bumping process

Kamloops This Week

The Kamloops-Thompson school district is used to declining enrollment.

It’s been a fact of life for many years, although the indication is it is starting to show signs of levelling off, said superintendent Terry Sullivan.

However, for the upcoming school year, the trend is expected to continue — and hit mainly the secondary-school level, Sullivan said during a media preview on Tuesday, April 2, of the proposed operating budget for the district for 2013-2014.

Lower enrolment means teacher layoffs and implemenation of the seniority-bumping process that exists in the union contract.

But, Sullivan said, “You can’t take a high-school physics teacher and put them into a kindergarten class.”

That simple reality will make staffing difficult if the expected secondary enrollment comes in at 5,726 students in the district, Sullivan said, down from the 6,094 students in grades 8 to 12 this school year.

The goal is to avoid any staff layoffs.

The decrease is expected across the board — rural and city schools alike — with one exception. A change in the catchment area a couple of years ago has resulted in increased enrollment at Valleyview secondary.

The numbers aren’t final yet, with the board inviting feedback and input, but the proposed budget has projected revenue for 2013-2014 at $125,521,237, down $320,565 from revenue received for the school year now in progress.

To ensure the budget stays balanced, which it is required to do, the board will dip into its reserve fund for $250,000, board secretary-treasurer Kelvin Stretch said. It will take another $50,570 out of its First Nations reserve.

Wages, benefits and expenses remain the most costly expense, with $59.395 million designated for teacher salaries, another $22 million for certified-education assistants (CEAs) — the new title for those previously known as student-support workers and, later, school-support workers.

The board uses 1997 as a comparison year for many purposes because that was the date the Kamloops and Clearwater boards amalgamated.

At that time, there were 918.7 full-time equivalent teachers on staff, a number that has dropped to 745.7 today.

A similar decrease in the number of principals and vice-principals has occurred in the past 16 years, Stretch said, with 64.6 full-time equivalents in that category now, down from 79 at the time of amalgamation.

There are more CEAs included in the budget for 2013-2014 compared to last year, with 55.7 full-time equivalents expected to be required. The current school year has 495.7 full-time equivalent positions in that group.

Trustees and senior administrators met with the two unions representing board staff prior to the media presentation. A meeting for the district parent-advisory council and other interested members of the public was scheduled to follow, but no one showed up.

Videoconferencing of the public session also saw only principals and vice-principals in Clearwater, Logan Lake and Barriere waiting for information.

 

Sullivan said a final budget will go to the board for approval at its April 29 meeting.