School district cuts cost of FOI request

Okanagan Skaha School District board chairman Bruce Johnson - Submitted
Okanagan Skaha School District board chairman Bruce Johnson
— image credit: Submitted

The Okanagan Skaha School District has now honoured its initial cost estimate for a freedom of information request related to the four employees whose expenses last year totalled $83,000.

“I apologize for all the rigamarole and we just want it resolved,” said school board chairman Bruce Johnson.

The school district initially sent the Western News an invoice for $182 to complete the request, the cost of which it had estimated at $40 and for which it settled this week.

The FOI response package shows the bulk of employee expenses were related to travel, mostly within B.C. but also to New York and Las Vegas.

It appears, however, that credit card report forms were redacted for unspecified reasons, while personal information, including social insurance numbers and birthdates of 37 employees, was left in.

Secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley did not respond Tuesday afternoon to an email seeking clarification.

Facilities director Doug Gorcak, superintendent Wendy Hyer, and director of business development Ron Shongrunden each spent over $20,000 last year for a combined $61,508.22, triple their 2012 total.

Johnson said the increased costs were related largely to the district’s attempts to generate revenue by attracting more international students and selling technology services, and saving money on energy efficiency improvements.

School trustees became aware of the expense amounts in December with the release of the annual statement of financial information, he continued.

“We asked and we said, ‘What’s going on? And the explanation we got is everything’s transparent, everything’s up front, it’s the price of doing business,” Johnson said.

The fourth employee on Okanagan Skaha’s $20,000-plus list is former payroll manager Lynda Warr, whose $17,326.68 retirement allowance was recorded as an expense.

“Should it be on the expense ledger? Probably not,” Johnson said.

Only two other school district employees elsewhere in the Okanagan topped the $20,000 mark for expenses last year, but Johnson noted that a secretary-treasurer in Salmon Arm booked $46,920.22.

Check the Western News on Friday for a full report on the FOI release.



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