More consultation was done this year during the Kootneay Lake School District’s budget process. The Board of Education recently passed its 2019-2020 budget using ThoughtExchange to gather input.
Secretary-Treasurer Michael McLellan says there were almost 8,000 ‘thoughts’ that contributed.
“More supports for diverse learners was a major focus. Support was actually the word that by word count within the thousands of words written by people, was the most commonly used word,” he said.
Student fee reductions and outdoor education were also highly ranked. As a result, the board has decided to implement a $40 district-wide base Elementary School Fee for supplies. That’s a $20 decreased in some cases, although the fees varied across the district.  All necessary supplies will now be included in that cost as well, where as many needed to be brought from home.
Two new positions have been added as well – a Manager of Safe Schools and Coordinator of Mental Health and Addictions. Overall though, McLellan explains that staffing levels won’t change much next year.
“Same-same budget where staffing levels across the district are expected to be the same or a slight increase, depending on equity levels, so we don’t expect any major variations in staffing levels otherwise.”
The $69,090,090 budget includes only a one per cent increase. There haven’t been any real funding increases from the NDP government as of yet, according to McClellan, although there has been some additional support towards Indigenous education and capital projects.
The ministry did provide a 19 per cent increase for self-identified Indigenous funding, which the school district matched. That amounts to more than $300,000 extra for on the ground supports.
The majority will be used for staffing increases – for example, education assistants or youth and family workers, but there’s also some money for supplies that contribute to enhanced education.
As for new capital projects that will be completed over the summer, the Province has previously announced funding for a number of initiatives including a dust collector at LV Rogers and new windows at Hume Elementary.

The district is also hopeful that an expansion will be officially approved in future for Blewett Elementary School just outside of Nelson. Pre-approval has been given towards the multi-million dollar project but design and architectural work, engineering, and surveying has to be submitted to the ministry still. $100,000 in local capital will be used for these preparations. Blewett Elementary is currently the most over capacity school in the district.