Trustee Michael Ewen and former trustee Brent Atkinson may have claimed more than $6,400 in expenses for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2012, but there was a simple solution to why those numbers were such a huge part of the $10,542 claimed by all trustees in the last fiscal year.
Secretary-treasurer Brian Sommerfeldt explained that Atkinson's total of $2,846 was almost all attributed to travel expenses he incurred going to China in his capacity as chief executive officer of the SD40 Business Company.
"Brent's expenses as a trustee for the district were $45," said Sommerfeldt, who pointed out the district accounts include consolidated reports for both the district and the business company.
As for the $3,580 Ewen claimed, the school board chair was able to pull up all of his costs after Tuesday night's regular board meeting.
"I had two ministry meetings, I attended the B.C School Trustees' Association AGM, I attended a conference in July 2011, I attended trustee academy in December 2011 and I was at a conference in Harrison," said Ewen.
Ewen also admitted that a dining receipt under his account was when he went with several administrators and teachers to Victoria to visit John Abbott and he picked up the buffet meal on the ferry. He said he picked up the tab for approximately 10 people and that bill was in the $200 range.
"Obviously, it's my error," Ewen said of not separating out what part of that receipt was just for him, "but I'm not terribly concerned by that."
Sommerfeldt said Ewen hadn't done anything wrong, but in the interests of good reporting of expenses, this example is one where improvement may be needed.
Ewen had previously told The Record that his expenses were not as important as the district getting a handle on its projected $2.2 deficit.
"Obviously, admin is busy right now with the deficit recovery option and with our meeting with the ministry," said Ewen. "But I'm also saying, 'we have one administrator who does this stuff, and he's also doing a deficit-reduction plan, which, quite frankly, is a lot more important than you getting information on what trustee expenses were. What I spent $3,000 on is somewhat less important than finding $2 million so we are not in deficit this year."
While the district has seven trustees, the current report on trustee expenses includes 10 names, as outgoing trustees Lori Watt, Brent Atkinson and Jim Goring also had to post their final expenses. Watt and Goring only claimed $15 each in expenses.