School board looks at cutting costs

The Clearview school board focused on their budget at their Thursday, April 24 meeting to look at where to save money.

The Clearview school board focused on their budget at their Thursday, April 24 meeting to look at where to save money.

The board looked at the current yard service guidelines and what can be changed in the coming year. Yard service refers to when school buses drop students off in their yards.

Before September 2013, bus drivers made the judgment themselves about whether or not to provide yard service. Drivers were also sometimes not aware of yard service guidelines, and once yard service was established, it was not always reviewed.

In September 2013, however, bus drivers were asked to record yard service they were providing, and it was concluded that while some yard service followed guidelines, some did not.

Transportation Services estimates that of the 196 km. per day that buses travel for yard service in the school district, almost 82 km. are for families that don’t meet the distance criteria for the service.

Assistant superintendent Peter Neale laid out the financial considerations involved in providing yard service. In total, across the district, buses spend 750 minutes a day providing yard service to students.

The total estimate for yard service cost over the year was about $42,000. This includes wages and mileage costs.

“If money is really that tight…we can stop yard service altogether,” Neale said.

However, the board wanted yard service guidelines to be somewhere between that extreme and what they have now.

The board discussed how much it was the school’s responsibility to ensure the child’s safety after he or she has been dropped off. Neale said it is not technically the responsibility of the school to make sure the child is safe after being dropped off, but Yvette Cassidy was hesitant about restricting yard service.

“I don’t want to live with a dead kid on my conscience,” Cassidy said. “There’s no way I ever want to see a bus stop on (highway) 56 and drop off a kid.”

The board decided to direct administration to send out a survey to parents and bring the results back to the board in June.

The cost of search for a new superintendent

Council also discussed the cost associated with searching for a new superintendent.

“We don’t want to be chintzy on that,” said board chair Ken Checkel.

The largest cost associated with the search is the use of a consultant from the Alberta School Board Association, which is estimated to cost $10,000-$15,000 in total.

Cassidy felt the board was spending too much money on the search and suggested not using the consultant.

“I look at that and I think to myself, ‘That’s half a teacher,’” she said.

The consultant identifies potential candidates, helps line them up, and figures out which ones are worth interviewing. Checkel said over his career, the board has used a consultant four times and felt the board needed his expertise.

“In theory, you can do things yourself, but there are things that the board would feel uncomfortable with,” he said.

Other expenses include board time, which is estimated to be $1,500 a day for three days, expenses for candidates to come to the interview, and possibly moving expenses.

The board made a motion to accept the cost discussion as information, which was carried with Cassidy opposed.