NLPS schools spending more of their resource dollars

School principals did a “heck of a job” spending school-based funds last year, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh told district trustees.

Walsh reported on the results of the $56,000 delivered to the district’s elementary schools in the 2021-22 school year for additional classroom resources, particularly for teachers with new classrooms.

Funds spent per school fluctuated though details provided to the business committee on Sept. 14 may not be wholly accurate as some schools coded their expenditures differently, Walsh noted. Gabriola Elementary, for example, spent $1,600 of its $2,000 allocation. The district allowed for unspent funds to be carried over for 2022-23 expenditures.

The dollars were in addition to the usual school-based funds delivered to each school, which in previous years have not been fully utilized by school administration. Preliminary numbers for 2021-22 indicate roughly $134,000 of school supplies funds went unspent across the district, down from a peak of $373,000 in 2017-18.

Walsh called that June 2022 surplus number “excellent” when looked across the number of schools in the district.

“We don’t want [schools] to have surpluses,” Walsh said. “Yes, we appreciate prudent spending … at the same time we don’t want that money sitting in schools when it can be spent on kids.”

The $56,000 was allocated in response to a survey of administrators about resource needs at the school level. Staff are not recommending the $2,000 in resources for each elementary school this school year, rather are focussing on using $82,000 of the restricted surplus reserve to flow to all schools to address inflationary cost pressures for resources.

“Schools (for the most part) continue to underspend their allocations,” the staff report to trustees says. “This likely reflects the continuation of COVID, however, this trend should be reviewed in a year in which schools can access external activities.”

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder