Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools’ nearly $1.8 million unrestricted surplus as well as a benefit premium surplus will go toward 17 projects including technology access, environmental and building upgrades and vehicle replacement.
The total pot approved by the board of trustees is over $4.6 million. The benefit premium surplus component comes from the district holding more than the recommended three-month contingency for paying the district’s contributions for medical and dental services.
As part of the continued upgrade to technology and internet access, the board allocated $500,000. Also included, $700,000 for facilities upgrades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, $300,000 to install solar panels at the Island ConnectED building on Jingle Pot Road in Nanaimo, $50,000 for the district’s recruitment program, $250,000 for purchasing vehicles and grounds equipment and $100,000 for WorkSafe to accommodate employees in work until they can return to their regular positions. It is expected to reduce the district’s WorkSafe BC premiums.
Another $500,000 will go toward professional development, land-based development and inclusion of elders in schools to support “healing and honouring the land” as part of the district’s Syeyutsus Policy Framework, a staff report says.
The board also allocated $700,000 to the school site acquisition fund to acquire land in areas of growth, or, if the district’s proposal to the Ministry of Education to replace Nanaimo District Secondary School is approved, the funds could be used as a district contribution to the replacement.
Trustee Jessica Stanley asked staff at the Sept. 29 board meeting where the district’s contingency funds stood and what has been considered to provide additional supports for Kindergarten students who Stanley said are having a harder time transitioning this year since many did not attend preschool due to COVID-19. An increase in enrolment this year has meant the staffing contingency has already been overspent by two full-time equivalent. Superintendent Scott Saywell said the enrolment increase plus a significant increase in international student enrolment gives him confidence that the district will have “enough of a buffer” to address “unforeseen needs” during the school year.
Separately, as part of allocating the unrestricted funds, the board also passed providing $2,000 to elementary schools for classroom resources, a total of $56,000.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder