Trustees took one more opportunity to look and discuss the SD83 draft 2021-22 Preliminary Budget at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, May 26. The Board will be considering adopting a bylaw to pass this budget at its regular meeting on June 15 at 6 p.m.
Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron recapped the budget planning journey thus far, including the budget timeline, the preliminary budget development, the partner group presentations (North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers’ Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and District Parent Advisory Committee), and the public feedback summary and email responses received by the Board.
Cameron noted that the Board’s Budget Committee advised and assisted with the 2021-22 Operational Budget development. The committee consists of representation from all partner groups including teachers, support staff, First Nations, principals and vice-principals, parents, and district staff. The purpose of this working group is to provide the Board with representative advice on budget issues and implications of proposed changes, and to allow for an interactive forum for open communication and understanding of the budget.
Trustees had questions about several areas of the budget. After considerable discussion, it was decided the only change would be to pause on filling the custodial supervisor position (with funds going into a contingency) until after a thorough review of the department’s organizational structure could be completed in the fall.
A question was asked about why there were so many lay-off notices this year, particularly for custodial, Certified Education Assistants (CEAs), and teachers and whether it was related to the budget being passed. Staff reported that there were a number of reasons, including COVID-19, changes to a program, and the language of the collective agreement (which doesn’t allow for lay-offs after September 30).
Cameron explained that the expectation is that custodial needs will begin to return closer to normal in the fall and that possibly by December, could be back to normal. These possible changes were discussed with the CUPE executive, as it would require a layoff later in the fall, which is against the collective agreement. She said they were told the union wanted to stay within the collective agreement, which states lay-offs can’t happen after September 30, To stay within the collective agreement, all custodians were laid off and regular hours are being reposted to pre-COVID levels, with the additional hours for COVID-related cleaning being posted as temporary. In that way when those services are no longer required, the temporary assignments can end.
For CEAs, it was explained that the support is student-needs driven and when students leave or move to a different school, the support required changes. Director of Instruction Carol-Ann Leidloff noted each year schools received an allocation based on INADS (a measure of student needs), so for next year some schools will receive less CEA support while others will receive more. When questioned, Leidloff reported that she expects that all of the CEAs will be back in the District next year, with the possibility that additional CEAs will be needed as well.
Speaking to teacher lay-offs, Assistant Superintendent Ryan Brennan reported they were higher than typical. Part of the reason for this was the redesign of the Literacy Program (current literacy teachers choosing to move back to the classroom) and class re-organization in the fall and spring because of COVID-19, and due to student movement to distance learning. Board Chair Amanda Krebs noted that the changes to the Literacy Program are being presented at the Board’s June meeting.
In the second Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board discussed hosting a Branch meeting of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association in the fall and considered whether they would like to hold it in-person or virtually. After discussion, trustees decided they would look at hosting a hybrid meeting, possibly on October 15-16.
They also discussed committee assignments for the upcoming school year and decided to remain with the status quo. Trustees also decided to update their 2021-22 workplan at their summer session.