The district’s cost savings — Part two: additional programming

Oss-School-Closing-Intro-webPublisher’s Note: The Osoyoos community in January was told by the Okanagan Similkameen School District that one of its schools — either Osoyoos Secondary School or Osoyoos Elementary School — was targeted for closing as part of a district plan to reduce its structural deficit.

Almost immediately, Robin Stille, a former educator with experience teaching on Haida Gwaii and in the Okanagan Similkameen School District, took it upon herself to conduct an independent analysis of the information delivered by district administration to its School Board. She included numerous questions, requesting Board response.  

This week the Osoyoos Daily News will provide segments of that analysis, including the questions posed and responses published by the School District. Our intent is to provide those interested with information with which to better understand the Board proposal and/or prepare additional questions.

Part Three in a Five-part series: See related articles and information

Based on the February 9 presentation, it does not appear that the Board Office is actively pursuing other cost-savings measures. The Board Office’s analysis of supposed cost-savings appears flawed; school trustees have been presented with misinformation and inaccurate numbers.

How can school trustees make such an important decision based on erroneous information?

The Network Leaders program

The Board Office insists that it has reduced District Administration costs through the elimination of the Assistant Superintendent position; however, the elimination of this position has not provided any real cost savings to the district as the salary and budget originally allocated for this position has been moved to the Network Leaders Program.

The Network Leaders Program was originally budgeted at $93,000 x 1.4 FTE for a salary cost of $130,200. (It has since been reduced to $93,000 x 1.343 FTE for a salary cost of $124,899). Each of the seven network leaders has been given a spending budget of $15,000 for an overall budget of $105,000. Overall, the Network Leaders Program is budgeted to cost $235,200.

On page 8 and 9 of the 2016 Budget, there is a newly created Instruction expense line item – 1.61 Continuing Education. This line item shows teachers’ salaries of $104,801 and benefits of $25,676 for a total of $130,477, which matches the original salary cost of the program.

The spending budget for the program has probably been added to the services and supplies budget for Instruction. In 2015, Instruction services and supplies were $1,525,861. In the 2016, they are budgeted to be $1,809,298. This is an increase of $283,437 over the previous year and would adequately cover the $105,000 spending budget of the Network Leaders Program.

Questions to be addressed:

  • In a time of supposed fiscal restraint, how does the Board Office justify this extra expense?
  • Is this a “luxury” item the school district could do without? (Elimination of the program would save a potential $235,000.)

Published Board response: Network leaders are teacher leaders situated in schools across the district. Their purpose is to work with classroom teachers on innovative teaching practices to improve student achievement and engagement. Seventy-one educators in our district are involved in ongoing work with the networks.

The network leaders’ structure was funded by the elimination of the assistant superintendent position, reduction and reallocation of assistant superintendent and superintendent budgets, and a teacher staffing allocation.

Principals and vice-principals

Not including Terry Collis, there are 15 principals and vice-principals in the school district. This is unchanged from 2005, despite a 23% decline in enrollment.

Questions to be addressed:

  • How does the School Board justify having 15 principals and vice-principals?
  • Why hasn’t there been a proportional decrease in the number of school-based AO’s to reflect the 23% decline in enrollment?

Published Board response: The district has nine school principal and six vice principal positions. The principal and vice principal positions have a total teaching allocation of just over five full time equivalent teaching staff. This means that even if five principal or vice principal positions were eliminated; the district would have to hire five teachers at a cost of $465,000 to cover the principal teaching time. There is also one principal of Student Services who has responsibilities for special education services.

The YouLearn program

For some reason, YouLearn isn’t being included in enrollment reports presented by the Board Office. While enrollment for YouLearn changes throughout the year, the September 1701 FTE enrollment reports show a decline of enrollment over the past five years.


It is perhaps unfair to judge YouLearn on these numbers alone; however, it does raise the question as to whether YouLearn warrants both a principal and a vice-principal.

Question to be addressed:

  • Does YouLearn require two administrators when its FTE is below 100?


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