Conference to cost district $65,000

The two-day-conference for some 125 high-level district staff at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver began last Wednesday.

Superintendent Kevin Godden said the conference is necessary for the district to fulfill its goal of “excellence in leadership.”

The Abbotsford school district’s annual leadership conference in Vancouver for its trustees, managers, principals, vice-principals and other executives is expected to cost taxpayers around $65,000.

Despite a budget crunch that required increased bus fees for this year, superintendent Kevin Godden said the conference is necessary for the district to fulfill its goal of “excellence in leadership.”

The two-day-conference for some 125 high-level district staff at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver began last Wednesday with registration, and ran through Thursday and Friday, with meetings, seminars and speakers.

While the total cost for this year’s event isn’t yet known, the district believes it will likely be in line with that of last year’s conference. That conference cost the district about $65,000, with the Abbotsford Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association also contributing a similar amount out of dues paid by its members.

The conference is an annual event focused on the professional development of the district’s leadership.

“We want to recruit, hire and train and prepare the best leaders, because we know it’s going to make a difference in the lives of our students,” Godden said. “In my view, it’s part of the reason we have the high success rate and variety of programs we have in the district.

“We are a high-achieving, high-aiming school district … and you don’t get that without some sort of investment in leadership.”

School district communications manager Dave Stephen said having the conference outside the city is also needed to remove the distractions that accompany the preparation for the upcoming school year.

“We’ve tried doing it in Abbotsford, but because we’re there, the leaders get pulled into their schools to deal with the day-to-day,” he said.

“When you have an organization our size, which is over 2,000 employees and a budget of $180 million, and you’re trying to deliver the best educational services you can, you need a chance to pull your leaders into a place where they’re not dealing with the day-to-day and give them a chance to look at the bigger picture.”

School board chair Cindy Schafer said the conference is “a good opportunity to have the different levels sharing information and getting on the same page.”

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