Thursday, December 6, 2012

At SD 52 when it comes to consultants, everything old is new again...

It's as though every day is Groundhog Day at SD 52, as the topic of consultants at the School District once again grab some headlines in the community.

The Northern View has provided some details to the reports of a recent press release from the Prince Rupert District Teachers' Union, which have the Teacher's Union wondering yet again, why Dave Stigant remains on the payroll in a consultancy position.

We use the term again, as this of course is not the first time that the Dave Stigant story has popped up when it comes School District talking points.

It's a tale that seems to go back at least three years or more, part of the changes to the School District Administrative structure upon the departure in 2009 of one time Superintendent Eric Mercer.

Janet Steffenhagen of the Vancouver Sun filed her first report on the cost of consultation in Prince Rupert back in 2009, which highlighted how Gary Doi, himself once a former School District 52 staff member and at the time working for the Okanagan Skaha district, shortlisted two names  for SD 52, both of whom also had connections with Okanagan Skaha.

One supposedly a short term option (Mr. Stigant) and a longer term solution, that being Lynn Hauptman, who returned to Prince Rupert and currently holds the title of Superintendent of Schools for the District.

November 14, 2011-- Retired and rehired in B. C. School Districts
March 12, 2010-- Heavy cost of education consultants in Prince Rupert
April 30, 2009-- Prince Rupert and Eric Mercer: Update
April 18, 2009-- Prince Rupert paid $144,802 to send superintendent packing
March 29, 2009-- A superintendent's mysterious departure

It all makes for a fascinating review, calls to mind many still unanswered questions of the time and offers up a fair amount of background to the current situation.

Brought to our attention once again  this week with the PRDTA Freedom of Information request.

According to the details in the Northern View,  Mr. Stigant who when working on SD 52 business makes $800 dollars per day, also receives compensation in the form of rental accommodation of $500 dollars per month. The total expenditure from September 2010 to December 2011 reportedly some 128,859 dollars.

All of that despite the fact that the administration staffing levels of the School District have increased in the last three years. Positions filled, that one would imagine should surely mean that we no longer require the services of Mr. Stigant or any other consultants on an ongoing basis.

It would seem that for the most part, if we read between the lines a bit, that he remains part of the local picture to deal with what seems to be a rather large file of union/management disputes that SD 52 seems to have, something that seems to be his speciality in the province.

While his time in Prince Rupert is well compensated, his work closer to home in the Okanagan seems to provide for a hometown discount, as Okanagan Skaha Superintendent Wendy Hyer famously recounted "(Stigant) is a deal because he resides in the area and won't require a travel allowance". 

Apparently if the figures revealed by the PRDTU are any indication, one communities "deal" is an "expensive incidental" for another.

In the current labour climate not only in the province, but within School District 52, the motives of the local teachers union will always have to be framed in the ongoing troubles that seem to dog relations with SD52.

Still, considering that this topic goes back three years now, perhaps it's time for School District 52 to provide the community with a bit of an update on the Expense side of the ledger, outlining what it is that Mr. Stigant does, that can't be done by the seemingly growing  administrative staff.

As part of that never ending quest for transparency,  the School District could offer up details on public record for us all, as to why a consultancy that started in 2009 was required at the time and more importantly perhaps, why it continues on to this day.

And most importantly of all, if the ongoing use and cost of consultants is having an impact on the delivery of actual educational pursuits within the School District.

Three years on, there still seem to be far more questions than there are answers.

CFTK-- Prince Rupert School District has paid out over $125,000 to Consultant

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