The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District is adding one new position and rearranging others to establish a learning services department.
The new department is to improve co-ordination amongst senior education leadership staff on initiatives that support schools and educators to boost student achievement levels.
Funding for the new position of deputy superintendent is included in next year’s proposed budget.
A deputy superintendent will head up the department and work with assistant superintendents to co-ordinate educational initiatives.
The department will also have four assistant superintendents – there are two currently and the two others will come from reassigning the positions of district principal of learning alternatives and district principal of student support services as assistant superintendents.
The additional cost to the operating budget is expected to be about $175,000, including the new salary and salary boosts due to the reassignment of district principals as superintendents.
Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said in the existing system, the two superintendents are each responsible for 19 schools and a number of programs, which leaves little capacity to deliver on new educational initiatives.
“We need to reorganize and restructure and put in place a team,” he said.
It is expected the team might be able to find some savings over time, once the separate budgets of different departments are co-ordinated, he said.
Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the idea is implementing a team-based approach to educational services, rather than having different departments, such as learning alternatives and student support services, working separately from one another.
“People don’t see themselves as linked,” he said.
Brennan said having that team will also help the district determine how to best spend the Learning Improvement Fund, a special pot of money the province has given districts to be used to help teachers meet complex needs in classrooms. Nanaimo is receiving $1.5-million for next school year.
“Having that larger team will allow us to better identify those areas of need,” he said. “We need good data and we need to know how well we’re doing.”
The department, which is intended to play an important role in advancing the district’s strategic plan as it is developed in the coming months, will be responsible for the district’s 38 schools, six learning alternative programs, support for students with special needs, aboriginal education, early years programs, international education, District Resource Centre and a number of other initiatives.