BC school district system needs overhaul

Public education in BC is in serious trouble. The Ministry of Education has decided to keep its limited budget which means that most school districts can’t balance their books. The government claims that there should be enough money to pay for schools but the trustees and the school districts disagree.

In order to make up for the budget shortfall, school districts either close schools or reduce the number of teaching days in the year. Yet at the same time, the number of principals, vice principals, and senior administrators keeps increasing despite declining enrollment and a decline in the number of teachers.

Superintendent salaries out of sight

The Nanaimo school district (SD68) 2016-17 budget includes major cuts. Woodlands Secondary School and Woodbank Primary School will close in June 2016.  SD68 has already closed 14 schools since 2002.  There will be layoffs to teachers, bus drivers, janitors and other maintenance positions as well as elimination of bus routes.

At the same time, there are plans to give a 20% pay hike to the SD68 Superintendent who will receive $229,360 in 2016-17 up from $191,802 this year.

This pay increase was determined by a consultant hired by SD68. In 2008, it was decided that the Board of Education is solely responsible for deciding what to pay the position of Superintendent.

Did you know that 2,733 staff in BC’s public sector earn more than the Premier of BC? The Richmond School District’s Director of Instruction makes $359,237. This is followed by a list of school superintendents making around $200,000 each. The salary increase for the SD68 Superintendent would put that position just behind the Superintendent for Maple Ridge at $257,123.

Why should our children suffer with an inadequate public education system while others are being overcompensated?

School district system

According to wikipedia, the school district system started in 1871, back when schools consisted of one room and an outhouse. There have only been two changes to the number of school districts – once in 1946 and again in 1996.  Some of these school districts had just one or two schools. It is time to revamp the school district system. A lot has changed since the early days except now there are third world portables for classrooms versus plush air-conditioned offices for administrators.

There is too much duplication in positions across the school districts. Why not amalgamate school districts – similar to the health authorities?  As an example, if each school district has an average of approximately 5 superintendents, this means we are paying about $80 million for superintendents. This doesn’t include all the redundant director positions.

Nanaimo Ladysmith School District 68 spends a greater percentage of their budget on administration than other comparable school districts of similar size. This was mentioned by Mike Roberts of the BC School Trustee Association in the video below.