Editorial — School district making progress
Langley School District is going in the right direction to comply with an action plan to get rid of its accumulated deficit. It needs to do so a little more quickly.
That’s the message from provincial Auditor-General John Doyle, who issued a report last week to update the legislature on a variety of ongoing public finance concerns.
Doyle had worked with the school district to develop an action plan to help it get rid of its $13.5 million deficit, which accumulated over several years while senior management, the board and outside auditors remained oblivious to the leaking financial ship.
One of the best steps the district has taken was the hiring of new secretary-treasurer David Green. He is a highly-experienced school district financial manager, and has already shown the board and management a number of areas where money can be saved. These include both spending practices and accounting practices.
Doyle said he is “encouraged” by the progress made by the board and senior management, but plans to continue to follow up his initial recommendations. He wants to give new board members who are elected in next month’s election time to become familiar with the recommendations and the work which needs to be done.
Of his nine recommendations, three have not been dealt with in any substantive way. All three involve long-term planning, and this needs to become more important for both the board and staff after the election. It is hoped there will be more progress on this front in a year’s time.
The tone of board meetings has improved.The rotating chair structure seems to have worked well, with no one trustee becoming the conduit by which other trustees get information from management.
The board may wish to keep rotating chairs in its new term, perhaps for three-month periods rather than one month.
Trustees say they are now better prepared to ask tougher questions of management. They also say they will do so in a more respectful tone. Both are essential, if trustees are to fulfil their obligations of being the public’s representatives in overseeing a large and complex education system.
The tone of mutual respect must continue, both during the election campaign and in the next three years. This is vital if the school district is to move forward.