Report compares costs between Nanaimo and other school districts

NANAIMO – School district administration wages for 2014-15 came close to $5 million, according to a comparison report.

Nanaimo school district ranks near the top of the pack when comparing administration costs with other districts in the province.

The comparison report was requested by the school board and was done by the B.C. School Trustees Association. It compared Nanaimo with eight other school districts: Central Okanagan, Delta, North Vancouver, Kamloops, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Prince George and Saanich.

It provided a summary of a number of comparisons, including operating budgets and salaries for district administration – managers, superintendents, but not vice-principals or principals, said Graham Roberts, school district secretary-treasurer.

Nanaimo, with a school population of about 13,000 students, had an operating budget of more than $115 million, more than $4.9 million in district administration salaries with 29 full-time equivalent positions in 2014-15.

Maple Ridge was similar to Nanaimo in terms of student numbers, with 13,177. It had 35.7 full-time equivalent staff with about $4.4 million tied up in district administration wages in its operating budget of more than $121 million.

Central Okanagan was included as a large comparator with more than $4.8 million in district administration wages, 36 full-time equivalent staff and an operating budget of more than $181 million in 2014-15.

When asked about district administration wages being higher compared to the Central Okanagan and Maple Ridge, Roberts said the report is old and costs have decreased.

“The $4.9 million, that would’ve been our actual year-end results from ’14-15, so it’s a couple of years old,” said Roberts. “During that timeframe, we had a number of retirees that had substantial vacation payouts, which weren’t fully accrued, so we had to report for those costs. That’s part of it.”

This included retirement of a number of executive assistants, said Roberts.

Roberts said the district has since eliminated the deputy-superintendent position, budget manager position and assistant manager of operations for 2015-16.

“Again, so these numbers are ’14-15 numbers,” said Roberts. “The numbers for ’15-16 should show that we’re spending a smaller percentage on our operating budget.”

According to the 2015-16 budget, district administration expenses were about $4.1 million.