KAMLOOPS – Responding to enrolment growth, which has exceeded 400 students in the past three years, as well as to changes in educational programming and parental expectations will be key priorities in School District 73’s budget for the next school year.
“We are a growing district, and with growth comes both challenges and opportunities. We’re hiring more teachers and support staff to meet the needs of our diverse students and demonstrate our continued commitment to address the needs of students with special needs. As well we are implementing our five-year strategic plan and addressing significant changes required by B.C.’s new curriculum,” said Alison Sidow, superintendent of School District No. 73 (Kamloops/Thompson).
Key initiatives include:
• Improvement of math and science outcomes for students in grades K to 12;
• Implementation of a new graduation program;
• Focus on career education in grades K to 12;
• Enhanced support for students with special needs;
• Improved delivery of public services, such as snow removal at school sites, and building maintenance;
• Focus on school culture and student safety;
• Better tools to communicate with parents, including a redesigned district website and a mobile app; and,
• Implementation of an online school fee payment program for parents and enhanced oversight of school budgeting processes
Rural areas will see on-going support as the district provides additional funds to support the delivery of courses in Grades 10 to 12 and support the transportation of students to curricular and extra-curricular events in Kamloops.
SD 73 will continue to hire teachers to ensure classroom size and composition requirements are met, as well as to accommodate growth. Teacher-to-student ratios are now the lowest they have been in 20 years.
The number of certified educational assistants employed by the district will rise to 242, a 30 per cent increase since 2010.
The district will hire a vice-principal at Barriere Secondary to help address the needs of vulnerable youth.
“We’ve met our goal of an 85 per cent graduation rate for all our students, and now we are setting our sights on a 90 per cent completion rate,” Sidow said. “Aboriginal graduation rates are also on the increase and closing in on parity. It all shows that our investment of resources is moving us in the right direction.”
Key numbers in SD 73’s 2018-19 budget include:
• Total budget (including special purpose and capital funds) for the year is expected to be $172,930,942, which reflects an additional $122 per FTE student from government to cover increased payroll, benefits and other costs related to the collective agreement;
• The number of teachers, support workers, principals and management staff employed by the district will rise by 20 to 1,410 FTE employees;
• More support services for students with special needs with $1.1 million spent above what government provides in special purpose funding; and,
• Administrative savings of $141 per student when comparing administrative expenditures for districts of similar size ($2 million annually) based on audited financial statements.
Trustees will be presented with the balanced budget for the 2018-19 school year at the April 23 school board meeting in Kamloops.