District to hire a staff person to run May Day

For the first time, the New Westminster school district is going to hire someone to organize May Day.

The decision to bring on a part-time employee to help plan and run the annual event comes just one week after trustees voted in favour of keeping May Day’s existing format for the 2018 celebrations.

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Hiring someone is needed if the school board wants to see the event go ahead next year, said New Westminster school district superintendent Pat Duncan.

“Looking at our human resources, it’s my belief we will need to add to our human resources to support May Day 2018,” he told trustees at a combined education and operations policy and planning committee meeting on Tuesday.

Duncan could only guess what it will cost to hire someone. He estimates it will be between $20,000 and $25,000, he told the board.

The expense will be added to the revised budget, which is presented to the school board in February.

In past years, the event has been organized by district staff and administrators with help from teachers. Last year, associate superintendent Janet Grant ran the whole thing, and she had the students take a lead role in the day-off event, including emceeing and directing other kids during the ceremony.

But this year, given how time consuming planning the event is, Duncan said having someone on staff organize May Day would be impossible.

“We don’t have the human resources at this point to support that,” he added.

Trustee Kelly Slade-Kerr, who voted against keeping May Day as-is for 2018, was unhappy with the decision to use part of the district’s budget to hire someone specifically for May Day purposes. She called the expense a “consequence” of the board’s decision to move forward with May Day 2018 without making any changes.

“My daughter is in Grade 9 math and her class has 30 Math 9 textbooks for 190 students. So I just want to make it clear that we are in a district where we are going to spend $20,000 to $25,000 to organize the district-wide May Day event and there is a Grade 9 class in this district where 160 kids don’t have a textbook,” she said.

In the meantime, the school district will be reaching out to the City of New Westminster to discuss the May Day celebrations after 2018. It is the school board’s hope the city will partner with them for a public consultation on the event.

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