Thunder Bay

Lakehead Public School Board trustees hit pause on new budget

The new school year may have started, but Lakehead Public Schools remains without an approved budget after trustees voted the latest proposal down last week out of concern over some proposed staffing changes.

Budget proposes adding third educational superintendent, trustees want to finish outstanding projects first

Lakehead Public Schools trustees have not yet approved the board's latest budget. (lakeheadpublicschools.ca)

The new school year may have started, but Lakehead Public Schools remains without an approved budget after trustees voted the latest proposal down last week out of concern over some proposed staffing changes.

The issue is the proposed elimination of the board's single remaining education officer position, and the addition of a third education superintendent.

"The question that five trustees have is, is this time to do this?" said Ellen Chambers, chair of the Lakehead Public Schools board of trustees. "Are we doing it with everything we need to know?"

The budget was defeated last Wednesday by a vote of 5-4.

However, Chambers said the defeat comes down to timing.

Chambers said the board's trustees have some outstanding business, including the development of a new strategic plan, and the performance review of the board's director of education, both of which were put aside when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Chambers said the budget didn't pass last week because the five trustees who voted against it wanted to see the outstanding projects finished first.

"Let's complete this first, see where we stand, see how this all works together, and then make a decision," she said. "Is this the right time? Is this the most useful use of our resources, resources meaning people and money, or is there something else?"

Chambers said trustees have gone through the budget in-depth, and most of it is ready for approval; therefore, she's not concerned that the budget itself hasn't been approved despite the school year having already started.

"We only had one thing that we wanted to revisit, and say 'can you come back with a different plan?'" she said. "The government knows where we are, and knows what we're going through, and ... I don't think there's going to be any repercussions from that."

"We just need to come to an agreement about that one thing."

David Wright, the superintendent of business for the school board, declined to comment on the story.

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