Prince Rupert school board passes one recommendation for 2012/2013 budget, rejects second

One of Senior Management’s remaining recommendations, hiring an assistant superintendent, passed and hiring two vice-principals did not.

On Thursday, May 17 at the third in a series of special open board meetings regarding the 2012/2013 school year budget, School District 52’s board of education passed one of Senior Management’s remaining recommendations, hiring an assistant superintendent, and did not pass the final recommendation to hire two additional vice-principals.

The meeting started off with the first recommendation, which was to add an assistant superintendent to the budget at a cost of $70,000. This position would replace two part-time Director of Instruction jobs, one of which is Sandy Jones who also works as a principal at Charles Hays Secondary School, and the second, which was filled by Marcy VanKoughnett before she moved out of the district.

At first, many trustees expressed fear over this new employment.

“I think there’s a fear out there that by us creating these positions, there will be other positions lost in the district,” mentioned trustee Janet Beil, with trustee Marty Bowles echoing her concern stating “Whenever you add to the top, you have to take from the bottom.”

However Superintendent Lynn Hauptman explained that there would in fact be other positions lost, but those would be the two part-time Director of Instruction spots.

“What we’re looking at is taking the .5 Director of Instruction position that Marcy VanKoughnett held, and taking the .5 that Sandy presently holds and creating one position, eliminating the Director of Instruction jobs and creating a new position,” she explained.

After much discussion, every trustee was in favour of the recommendation, aside from trustee Bowles.

The next recommendation discussed was adding two additional vice-principals in the district, which would cost $26,000, a $13,000 pay increase to two teachers who would apply for the job.

On this recommendation, both trustees Beil and Louisa Sanchez brought up the idea to comprise, so that teachers would gain from the budget as well.

Since the last budget meeting, when the board had approved to spend some surplus funds on purchasing a new special needs bus, the board found out that the cost would be almost completely funded by the Ministry of Education. The district now has $90,000 of surplus reallocated into their budget.

“I can’t even consider two more vice-principal positions at this time unless the money that’s in this surplus that will be reallocated back in this budget goes back to our teachers in some way. I think it’s only fair,” said Beil.

This recommendation also had many trustees fearing layoffs for teaching staff, however Hauptman explained that there would not be any full time layoffs if two additional vice-principals were hired, and that these positions would not mean more release time (meaning amount of time put in by administrative staff) at each school, in fact a majority of the district’s schools would be seeing less release time.

“By putting in two additional vice-principals wouldn’t mean a loss of teaching time. Teachers will fill those positions. They will simply change associations, from being a Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union member to being a member of the Prince Rupert Principals’ Association,” she stated.

Trustee Sanchez wasn’t buying into it, however. Sanchez brought up the fact that when Prince Rupert had a higher population of students there were only principals and administrative assistants in schools. Hauptman argued back that the role of principals has increased.

Many board members who were in favour of putting $26,000 towards principal and vice-principal succession argued that the $360,000 being given to the district for the Learning Improvement Fund could be put towards a variety of things, in which the PRDTU could help choose upon.

But in the end, more trustees were opposed to the recommendation, with three voting in favour, and three voting against.

Beil suggested that the $90,000 of reallocated surplus funds from the special needs bus go towards teachers, with the funds going towards working on composition or going towards hiring a psychologist for the district. This idea will be considered at a later date.