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Kootenay Lake School District - A 65 million dollar investment in the future

Curtis Bendig for School Board Trustee
By Curtis Bendig for School Board Trustee
June 14th, 2017

Kootenay Lake School Board Trustee Curtis Bendig wants to inform the public about the role a school trustee plays in keeping the education system flowing smoothly at the local level.

Which is why Bendig is writing a column about the job of being a School Board Trustee.

Bendig discusses in The Nelson Daily the Kootenay Lake School board move towards approving our 2017/2018 operating budget. 

“It sure is nice to have an extra few extra million to work with.” This is not a phrase I ever thought I would hear myself say when speaking about money, but I did last month as the Kootenay Lake School board moved towards approving our 2017/2018 operating budget.  

As you can imagine, developing a plan of how to best provide a K-12 education for the children of our region is not a straight forward or simple task. This was the third budget that I have been a part of building since becoming a Trustee.

There was one very important change to this year’s budget planning process that made it feel starkly different front he previous two – we had more money to work with. 

The largest contributing factor to increased revenue to our district for the next school year was the BC Teachers Federation victory at the Supreme Court earlier this year.  For 15 years teachers fought the BC Liberal government for the resources that were illegally taken out of the education system. They won and as a result we are able to put more money in classrooms. 

Our district also benefited from election year spending. Thanks to citizens across our region and across the province getting active, getting loud, and letting the government know that public education should be a priority, we saw a number of announcements of new funding leading up to the May election. 

The benefits of our facilities planning process that our board and communities worked through in 2015/2016 are starting to be realized. As a result of this process a larger percentage of our resources are now providing direct services to students.  

School District 8 develops our budget in a very open and transparent away – it is something that I am quite proud of. We put learning first. Our process started last fall when our budget committee met with students from across our district for a full day. We spent time hearing about their priorities and vision for learning in our district. 

From there, our 23 member committee, made up of trustees, school principals, parents, district administrators, support staff and teachers, spent five months reaching out to our communities and meeting as a group to draft our budget. 

We experienced some setbacks as we waited for the teachers and government to reach an agreement on the Supreme Court ruling, and as you can imagine there is some diverse opinions on the best way to allocate resources to prepare our future leaders for a rapidly changing world.

Our committee had some great conversations – after years of discussing cut about cuts, I really appreciated the opportunity to have discuss where we were able to put resources back into our system. 

On May 30 our board unanimously approved a balanced preliminary operating budget of $65 386 579 to support our 5000 students over the 2017/2018 school year.  It is a budget that sees an increase of 35 full time staff to serve students across the district, continued investments in learning technology, and greater investments to get students outside and into their communities. 

The full budget, and documentation of how the committee developed it are available at  

This budget and the increased funding that lead to it are a good news story and a move in the right direction, but the work is not done.  After years of underfunding there is much ground to be made up.  We must hold our new government to account on their commitments to further strengthen our public education system.

We must continue to advocate for a strong, properly funded, universally accessible public education system. Investing in our young people is an investment in a better future for our families, our region and our planet.


Categories: EducationOp/Ed

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