The audited budget, school start up information, the rebuild of PVSS gym and more were on the agenda as the SD83 Board of Education met for the first time this school year, but for the second from the last time, as a new board is being elected in October. Several of the current trustees are not re-running. The meeting was open to the public and was held at the District Education Support Centre (DESC) on Thursday, Sept. 15.
2021-22 Audited Financial Statements
After receiving a “clean opinion” from external auditor KPMG, the Board of Education approved the 2021-22 Audited Financial Statements as presented at its meeting on Thursday evening at the District Education Support Centre (DESC). “We are happy to issue our clean audit opinion,” said Murray Smith, KPMG auditor. He noted that they found the statements to be true and accurate. “It was a smooth process. It is much appreciated,” he commented.
Smith noted that the Ministry’s accounting policies are very prescriptive and even for an experienced finance person it is complex. “The discussion and analysis paper (put together by Director Hunt) is really key to digging in and understanding key points.”
Vice-chair Tenille Lachmuth, who chaired Thursday’s meeting, thanked Smith for the presentation.
Just before Smith’s presentation of the audit, Director of Finance Jeremy Hunt walked trustees through the audited financials and the Financial Statement Discussion and Analysis. He noted school districts are required to prepare audited financial statements annually. These statements are audited by both an independent auditor (who reports to the Ministry and to the Auditor General) and by the Ministry of Education and Child Care.
He said school district financials are complex and are comprised of three main funds – operating, special purpose, and capital. All have their integrated parts that roll into the financial statements. Hunt noted several items of interest in the financials including a proposed transfer from operating to local capital which will be used for a portable, flag poles, and information technology (computers and infrastructure).
He noted revenue was close to what was anticipated however there were several substantial increases on the expense side from the previous year including teacher salaries, increased substitute costs, and increased supply costs (particularly utilities and fuel).
“Thank you for your presentation and the analysis,” said Chair Amanda Krebs. “It was nice and clean and easy to read. Thank you for all your hard work.”
Secretary Dale Culler also thanked Hunt and his team for their hard work to prepare the statements for audit. “Director Hunt is in his first year in this role and he has done a fantastic job. He is very conscientious. The team has done outstanding work.”
Transfer to Local Capital
The Board approved a transfer of $545,400 to Local Capital Reserve from the Operating Fund to fund a portable ($250,000), flag poles at various schools ($150,000), and information technology ($145,000).
Director of Finance Jeremy Hunt explains that as of June 30, 2022 the balance in the Local Capital Reserve is $2,356,823. These funds represent transfers from previous years to future years that are set aside for a specific purpose.
PVSS Gymnasium Reconstruction
Director of Operations Travis Elwood updated the Board on the reconstruction progress for Pleasant Valley Secondary School’s gym. He noted that the request for proposal (RFP) for the demolition of the gym had to be done twice because the first time the only bid was over budget. The second time, which extended the completion deadline to the end of February 2023, brought in six bids but one was ineligible due to missing certain requirements. The bid was awarded on August 30 to NAPP Ltd. The plan is to begin deconstruction in October.
Also, in June the the RFP for architect/prime consultant services was issued with four companies responding. A panel of four SD83 reps reviewed all proposals and scored them on the criteria. On August 18 the contract was awarded to KMBR Architects. The plan is for the gym to be built and able to be used by February 2024.
Elwood also reported that at a meeting at PVSS on September 14, a group of community representatives, school district staff, and students met with the architect to provide input and thoughts about the potential design for the gym. Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler noted that he was especially pleased with the thoughtful input provided by students and staff who attended. “It was very helpful.”
Lachmuth added that it will be a lovely upgrade to the school and they can’t wait for it to be completed.
Five Year Strategic Plan Renewal
“This is probably one of the most exciting things I’m going to be able to get involved in. Setting directions for students in this district over the next five years. It can impact 6800 students and their families,” said Kriger when introducing the topic of the five year strategic plan renewal.
Kriger explained that the current strategic plan expired in June 2022. She commented that last year she was involved in a collaborative opportunity with the Ministry and eleven other superintendents from across the province. These meetings occurred monthly and were designed to prepare districts for the important work associated with strategic planning. She added she is looking forward to getting started! She noted authentic consultation and collaboration with SD83 employees, students, stakeholders, and rightsholders are critical steps within the strategic planning process.
At the meeting, the Board supported the Senior Leadership Team’s request to initiate the consultation and collaboration process necessary for the development of a new five year strategic plan. The senior leadership team will begin these processes in October. She said they will be talking about not only the philosophical but also practical. “What is important to us, what is our vision for SD83 and our kids.” Dates for community and partner group consultations will be announced in the near future.
Superintendent’s Report – Enrolment and Start Up Update
Superintendent Donna Kriger reported to the Board that there are approximately 6,800 students in SD83. The district has 452 teachers, 197 teachers teaching on call (TTOCs), and there are still nine teaching positions which need to be filled. There are also 393 support staff.
She added that at the PVP start up session there was a team building exercise of “paddling together” and she extended thanks to the Shuswap Rowing and Paddling Club and Friends Abreast for making this possible. She added “paddling together” is a theme for this year and was part of the school start up at all schools. She thanked NOSTA and CUPE for working with senior leadership to make the school start up day happen. “All staff were brought together virtually for 30 minutes to set the direction for the coming year.”
She added a staff survey after opening day reported that over 80 per cent felt the new format (the first day was a full day for staff with students not attending rather than it being a half day for students) was beneficial.
Superintendent’s Report – Ministry Priorities
Kriger noted that she, Assistant Superintendent Ryan Brennan, and the four directors attended a B.C. School Superintendent’s Association meeting this summer where they met with others from across the province. She reported the Ministry representatives outlined the three priorities for the year which are early learning and child care, truth and reconciliation, and equity/inclusion and mental health. “The Board should be proud that the re-structuring they initiated and approved last year addresses each of these areas,” she reported.
Superintendent’s Report – Family of Schools Model
Kriger reiterated to the Board that the district has moved to a family of schools model where each of the directors have supervision of school operations for a group of schools. The reason for the change is to be more efficient and provide greater support for schools. “We have seen the benefits of this already,” she added.
Superintendent’s Report – Student & Family Affordability Funding
Kriger reported that the Ministry recently provided additional funding to all school districts for vulnerable families and students. SD83’s share of this fund was $717,000. Kriger said work is now going into how to best use these funds to help SD83’s vulnerable students with such things as food insecurities and fee payment.
Lachmuth noted she was pleased to see the funding for vulnerable students and hoped that trustees’ advocacy for this helped!
Superintendent’s Report – Cameras in the washrooms
Kriger added that she wanted to address the rumour that for some reason SD83 was putting cameras in washrooms. “This is absolutely false. In no way is that a practice we are engaging in.”
SD83 Early Learning & Child Care
During her update on SD83’s early learning and child care programs Director of Instruction Jen Findlay shared some good news – school districts have received funding to support an Early Learning and Child Care district position. SD83 hired Allison de Boer, a PVSS grad that has been specializing in this work with West Vancouver School District, to the new vice-principalship. She will begin on October 3. Findlay said they will be working on maintaining current programs, adding some new programs, and exploring possibilities.
Read More Here
2023-24 Minor Capital Plan Adjustment
The Board approved the adjustment to the the 2023-24 Minor Capital Plan submission to the Ministry of Education and Child Care. Director of Operations Travis Elwood explains school districts must submit their 2023-24 Major Capital Plan by July 30th and the Minor Capital Plan and supporting documentation by September 30th. He noted the HVAC upgrade at Parkview was an approved project for the previous Minor Capital Plan and received capital support of $1.75 million but pricing for the project exceeded funding.
The Minor Capital Plan was submitted and passed by the Board in June based on the expectation that Parkview would be completed as planned. Due to tender responses being above available funding, the scope of the Parkview HVAC project was reduced to fit the funding available. As well, further evaluation of existing equipment identified that the roof top equipment at Highland Park is functional but at high risk of break down due to age and its components. This too was added to the Minor Capital Plan.
See Minor Capital Plan here
Committee Chair Marianne VanBuskirk reported Ed Directions met on September 14. She noted they are still seeking two student members and a FNEC member if anyone is interested. She noted there were reports by Director of Instruction Reid Findlay on a program being piloted in three schools called Spaces. Spaces is a program in My BluePrint, which is used in SD83. Spaces is a student portfolio tool that is built to support proficiency based learning practices, competency based education, and portrait of graduate practices. Also, Director of Instruction Jen Findlay and District Principal Val Edgell reported on priority learning in numeracy and literacy and spotlighted core outcomes and building blocks. “It was a very informative meeting with plenty of enthusiasm. It is a pleasure to attend.”
Finance & Facilities/Audit Committee
Committee Chair Amanda Krebs kicked off her report saying it was very enjoyable as well. “It was a fun meeting with the budget, and audit and I love looking at spreadsheets,” she said with a grin. She reported a very full meeting last week which included not only all the audited financial information but also a rundown on all the projects completed by Operations over the summer. “I’m very appreciative of all your team’s hard work over the summer.”
Lachmuth noted that the policy committee also met the first week of September. She said there are some new members and a couple of more are needed including a student voice. She added they were able to get Policy 330 where it could come for first reading. The Board of Education approved the First Reading of Policy 330 – Assessment and Communicating Student Learning. It now goes out for feedback to the public and employee groups.
VanBuskirk noted the First Nations’ Education Council (FNEC) met on September 14. “It was wonderful to see everyone. There was lots of rich discussion.” She said there were updates from each of the Bands and the Metis representatives as well as from the school district. She noted Orange Shirt Day acknowledgement events will be held on September 29 at Salmon Arm West at 10 a.m. and at the DESC at 11 a.m.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
Due to time constraints this report by Director of Instruction Carol-Ann Leidloff was postponed until the October meeting.
Letter to Ministry
The District sent a letter to the Ministry asking for approval to underspend its targeted Indigenous funds by $39,174 and to move this amount to the 2022-23 grant allocation. The funds will be used for learning materials, parent and success teacher support, and Knowledge Keeper cultural enrichment. The reason why the funds were underspent was because of the lack of in-person Knowledge Keeper activities due to COVID. “Hopefully this is the last time we have to send the letter,” added Krebs.
Trustee VanBuskirk wanted to express her thanks to schools and district staff for the wonderful graduation ceremonies which took place in June. She attended the Salmon Arm Secondary grad and said it was delightful event full of many memories. She also mentioned that she has heard school start up was seamless. “Thanks to all of our staff for their hard work.”
In his report Trustee Marty Gibbons congratulated Corryn Grayston, who is acclaimed in Electoral Area 3. “I have no doubts the area will be well represented.”
Lachmuth reported that a group of PVSS students are leaving on a trip to Quebec. “It is exciting times.”
Sept. 19 – National Day of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II (Schools are closed)
Sept. 30 – National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (Schools are closed)
Oct. 18 – Regular Board of Education Meeting at 6 p.m. at the DESC