Trustees have been involved in the evaluation of grade 12 graduation transitions as well as Dogwood Scholarship selections and we have been amazed at the quality, achievement and talent of our grade 12 students. They are a fine group and our communities should feel proud of the caliber of students that we are sending into the world this fall!
The SD53Board of Education in is concerned about the continuing labour dispute and we realize that it has an impact on our students, teachers, parents and communities. We are hopeful that a negotiated settlement will be reached at the bargaining table soon and that teachers, CUPE workers and management will continue to work together in our district to provide an excellent education for our students.
At our May Board of Education meeting the board approved eight policies. The majority of the policies approved have minor revisions. We also approved three policies that were on the website for public input. One policy was modified to make the language clear. This policy deals with volunteers, team coaches, club sponsor and drivers. Please be sure to check out the SD53 website to learn more about these policies.
The district is preparing for upcoming trustee elections in November 2014 and is in discussions with municipalities and the RDOS. The board appointed secretary treasurer, Lynda Minnabarriet as Chief Election Officer and executive assistant Merrill Bjerkan was appointed Deputy Chief Election Officer for the trustee election.
At the May Education Committee meeting vice principals Shannon Miller and Shendah Benoit presented to the committee on the district’s current Family Life program and a proposal to replace it. It was brought forward to the regular meeting for further discussion and information. This program will now be known as the Sexual Health program and will be revamped to ensure that all students receive strong sexual health instruction. The program will be presented by a classroom/school teacher and will allow the teacher to integrate the learning into the regular classroom curriculum along with other affective domain learning such as “Mind Up “ and “Friends”. The new curriculum will be based on the Teaching Sexual Health program available from Alberta Health Services and will be piloted in the Osoyoos Elementary and Osoyoos Secondary schools.
On May 22 the Budget Advisory Committee met to review the 2014/2015 budget year. At this meeting we reviewed our 2014/2015 budget with our partner groups as well as our MLA Linda Larsen. It has always been a priority of the board to keep as much money as possible in the classroom and this year it will be no different. This budget is a “no-frills” budget with the majority of our budget spent on staffing that is directly correlated to instruction. The majority of funding comes from the Ministry of Education and is based on per student funding. We receive base funding of $6,900 per student with extra money for students of Aboriginal ancestry and special needs students. Based on kindergarten enrollment and current student numbers, we are expecting a decline in enrollment for next year. We invited members of our partner groups and the community to attend the regular board meeting at 7 p.m. on June 25 for another opportunity to review and provide feedback to this budget.
Our 2014/2015 budget totals $28.3 million. Our operating expenses for 2014/2015 are expected to be $24.3 million, special purpose fund expenses $1.6 million and capital fund expenses $2.4 million. To maintain existing programs the board will be designating $363,000 from prior years’ surplus funds for 2014/2015 operating budget expenses. Seventy eight percent of our budget is spent on instruction, eight percent on operations and maintenance (buildings, grounds and administration of this department), six percent on school administration, two percent on district administration and three percent on utilities. It is clear from these numbers that there are not many areas that we can cut more from without affecting instruction, so unfortunately if this deficit trend continues we will have to look at school closures. It is important to recognize that we have not received an increase in per student funding from the ministry for a number of years and unfortunately the cost of living increases every year, so we would like our communities to lobby with us for increased per student funding to at least keep up with the increased yearly costs.