High financial surplus generates talk at first school board meeting

Fraser-Cascade School District 78’s (SD78) school board met on Sept. 12.


McConnell/Voelkl Chartered Professional Accountants representative Christopher Kelley presented to the school board. Through his presentation, he touched on the topic of surplus. As a percentage of the district’s operating expenditures, SD78’s unallocated surplus represents 17 per cent of its annual operating expenditures.

Responding to a question from trustee Rose Tustian, Kelley said 17 per cent is at the “upper end of surpluses” among B.C. school districts.

“They want school districts to develop a policy around their surpluses and how they’re going to use it going forward, and I think if the school districts don’t … there will be a thou-shalt directive from the Ministry,” said Kelley.

Tustian said she asked a deputy minister of education of what a reasonable amount would be, and received a reply that two per cent was recommended. Tustian said SD78 loses a lot of students to other school districts because SD78 lacks course offering and that SD78 should try to maintain student enrollment through course offerings.

Secretary-treasurer Natalie Lowe said the surplus is large and “could be smaller,” but also highlighted the benefits of having a large surplus. She said it allowed SD78 to act on capital projects such as installation of classrooms in Kent Elementary and food trucks for trade programs “without worrying about how we were going to fund it.”

C. E. Barry track

SD78 has passed a motion to enter into a partnership that could bring a track to the former C. E. Barry Intermediate School’s field, with trustees Cindy Ferguson and Tustian opposing.

Delegates Jeff Kuhn and Dave Murphy spoke of how they wanted to apply for an Aviva Community Fund grant for $100,000 to build a walking track around the field.

Kuhn spoke with operations supervisor Doug Templeton, who recommended them to put in a 1.5-to-two metre track around the field, which will cost $60,000 to $75,000 including benches and refurbishment of picnic tables, and $25,000 for waist-high lighting for the track.

Murphy, who is affiliated with the Hope Running Club, talked about his passion for track and field. He furthered that he would like to help coach track and running activities for students. He said missing the resources makes it hard to start.

Both Ferguson and Tustian opposed the motion, saying that they needed to know what the long-term plan for C. E. Barry was. Ferguson also shared concerns about liability of public use of the grounds and also needed to know who would be in charge of maintaining the track.

Tustian also said that voting on a motion on the same day of the delegation goes against SD78’s policy. She also felt concerned that staff might not have time to work on this.

Naloxone kits in schools

Training and placing naloxone kits in schools should be completed by the end of September, according to assistant superintendent Kevin Bird. In June, the board voted in favour of placing the kits and to have training in schools.

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