The first Abbotsford school board meeting of the academic year included a ‘school start-up report’ from Kevin Godden, the superintendent of the district.
School enrolment is still on the rise for younger students, with 33 more elementary students and 24 more middle school students than projected. Those increases equal the need for five more elementary divisions (up from 386 budgeted for) and one more middle school division (up from the 153 budgeted).
However, numbers are down for secondary students, although the numbers are measured by course enrolment and Godden noted the numbers could increase through the year.
As for the summer break, Godden said it was business as usual at the district.
“The district never sleeps,” he said, listing off some of the larger projects undertaken by staff in all departments over the summer, including the completion of Irene Kelleher Totí:ltawtxw elementary.
For example, in late August, staff and a number of service organizations came together to distribute 1,200 backpacks full of supplies to local students.
Godden called the partnership project “an amazing feat.”
Summer is also a time of hiring, and Godden said the district has “done quite well in the teachers we’ve hired.”
And as for operations, he said even in a district of 46 schools, everyone gets something. From fresh paint to new heating or cooling, operations staff work through the summer taking advantage of the kids being away and the good weather.
Godden also walked the board of education through the performance report schedule, breaking down what he will bring to them each month. His was the first of several annual reports from department heads.
Linda Peters, director of finance, presented the finance department’s strategic plan. She explained that their first goal is to reduce school budget variances, by developing a new budget allocation model and school budget carryover guidelines.
They also hope to increase awareness and engagement opportunities in the district’s annual budget process, which has increased greatly already over the last year, Peters said.
She outlined the successes of the district, financially. That includes coming in ahead of budget last year and staying on budget in two recent capital projects.
The facilities department director, Dale Churchill, also gave an annual report, including identifying some of the items they are working on improving upon. This includes finding new hires, especially in trades like HVAC and developing a plan for synthetic turf fields, particularly at W.J. Mouat.
He spoke about how the pandemic impacted their department, through staffing challenges, and the rising cost and availability of materials.
Karman O’Brien, director of information technology, provided a progress report highlighting achievements related to how the IT department worked on improving the ethical and innovative use of technology.
The current board will meet for the last time on Oct. 4, with the municipal elections on Oct. 15. The new board will meet on Nov. 15 for their inauguration.