School board goes over audit, status of teacher-librarians at Nov. 14 meeting

The audited financial statements of the School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) took centre stage during the board’s Nov. 14 meeting.

According to independent accountant Manisha Pandya, the SDML wrapped up the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 with $ 45,273,970 in revenue and $ 43,172,356 in expenses. Compared to the previous fiscal year, this represents an overall $3,049,932 increase in revenue and a $288,452 decrease in expenses.

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Although the initial surplus for the year was $2,101,614, once the opening accumulated surplus and a non-vested sick leave expense were factored in, the school ended the year with a consolidated accumulated surplus of $11,333,118, an increase of over $2 million from last year.

Pandya later pointed out that this number could be misleading, since $7,335,787 of that total represents the SDML’s tangible capital assets.

“That’s really not surplus because you’re not going sell off your schools and your buildings to create capital,” she said.

Pandya ended her rundown by saying she was satisfied with the financial statements in the audit.

The full financial report can be read on the school district’s official website.

Status of librarians

After the official meeting wrapped up, the Thompson Citizen asked several school board members about the status of elementary school teacher-librarians, referencing an ad that was published by the Thompson Teachers’ Association back in May.

The ad claims that cuts to education funding forced the school district to cut teacher-librarians in their elementary schools, which was mostly confirmed by board chairperson Don Macdonald and co-superintendent Angèle Bartlett on Nov. 14.

While these positions weren’t cut outright, Bartlett said the board did reallocate some of their employees for their 2017–18 budget.

“They were certified teachers that were manning the libraries,” she said. “We essentially re-assigned them back into classroom teaching positions and hired library-technicians [as replacements]. So the libraries are manned, but not with a teaching-librarian, somebody with an education degree.”

Bartlett also said that this move isn’t unique to the SDML and has already been adopted by many school divisions in southern Manitoba and across Canada.

For example, 30 per cent of teacher-librarians have vanished from British Columbia schools since teacher-librarian ratios were stripped from the BC Teachers Federation collective agreement in 2002.

However, Bartlett said that teacher-librarian positions are being retained for R.D. Parker Collegiate.

The next School District of Mystery Lake board meeting is taking place Nov. 28.

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