Board meeting highlights - October 15, 2020

Board meeting highlights - October 15, 2020

Board appoints Secretary-Treasurer as Returning Officer for 2021 School Board Trustee Elections
Trustees appointed Secretary-Treasurer, Rhonda Freeman as Returning Officer and Chris Warne, Executive Assistant, as substitute Returning Officer for the 2021 School Board Trustee Elections. As per changes in the Alberta Elections guidelines, nominations open on January 1, 2021. Nominations will be accepted at Peace River School Division Central Operations located in Grimshaw. Election day is October 18, 2021.

Superintendent Bennett provides enrolment update
Paul Bennett, PRSD Superintendent of Schools shared enrolment data with the board of trustees for all PRSD schools, PRSD’s at-home learning program as well as PRSD’s Home Schooling Program “Peace Home Learning Connection.” PRSD’s enrolment numbers are down 281 students compared to projected enrolment for this school year. “The pandemic has certainly played a large role in the difference we are seeing in our projected enrolment compared to our current enrolment numbers” says Superintendent Paul Bennett. PRSD’s projected enrolment for the 2020-2021 school year was 3016, and the actual enrolment as of September 30, 2020 is 2735. PRSD has 190 students enrolled in at-home learning (which is included in the September 30, 2020 enrolment count), and 106 previous PRSD in-school learners have switched to home schooling. As school boards are funded based on enrolment, the PRSD board of trustees are advocating to the Alberta Government that due to the pandemic, serious consideration be made to making exceptions to this year’s funding allocations.

Board approves Enrolment Improvement Review at Red Earth Creek School
The board of Trustees elected to conduct an Enrolment Improvement Review at Red Earth Creek School with a focus on senior high programming. The review will be focused on continued academic viability of senior high programming. The board wishes to work together with parents, staff, and the community to develop strategies to enhance the long-term success of senior high programming and look at opportunities to work better with the community to provide high school programming for students. The board will be gathering feedback through staff and public meetings that will be scheduled in the near future.

Board to hold virtual meetings with PRSD students – PRSD Student Engagement Teams
The board of trustees directed administration to plan and schedule virtual meetings with PRSD’s upper elementary/junior high and senior high Student Engagement Teams. The board discussed the value of these meetings and shared that it would also be a good opportunity to hear from PRSD’s at-home learners and home-schooling students. Items the board has placed on the future agenda with both engagement teams include; Adapting to the new Covid environment at school, Wrap Around Services (mental health and addiction supports) and updates on at-home learning and home schooling. Prior to Covid-19, the board would schedule two in person meetings with the Student Engagement Teams where both the students and the board add topics to the agenda. Administration will be working with the schools to coordinate the teams and put forth agenda items from the students for the upcoming meetings. “It is empowering for students to have a voice in their own educational experience and it is very important for the board to engage with students in this way” says Board Chair Darren Kuester.

Remaining Capital Renewal Maintenance Funding (CMR) to be used to upgrade lighting in three PRSD schools
On May 21, 2020 the Alberta Government announced that school divisions would be allocated one-time funding for capital projects on school buildings as a means to create jobs and boost the Alberta economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. PRSD’s allocation total was $2,500,000.00 and the board approved three proposed projects that aligned with the government’s outlined criteria. Projects included:  the replacement of concrete sidewalks, curbs, gutters and the resurfacing of parking lots and bus loops at E.E Oliver Elementary School and Fairview High School, the replacement of TA Norris Middle School’s heating system and the paving of the parking lot at Worsley Central School. Due to project cost savings, and the support of Clear Hills County for the Worsley paving project, $700,000.00 remains in the CMR funding. The board approved a recommendation that the remaining $700,000.00 be used to provide energy efficient lighting upgrades at EE Oliver Elementary School, Fairview High School, and Worsley Central School.

Learning Supports – Departmental Presentation
Aleeta Ploc, PRSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Learning Supports provided the board with an update on PRSD’s Learning Supports Department. The Learning Supports Department coordinates a wide range of supports and services for PRSD schools that support student learning and overall well-being. Examples of the supports provided include: specialized programming for students, intervention supports, assistive devices, social, emotional, and mental health services and supports, as well as the coordination of external supports. PRSD’s Learning Supports Department employs Divisional Intervention Coordinators, Divisional Social Workers, school-based Success Coaches, Family Liaison Workers, and Youth Education Support Workers, a Project PEACE Program Manager and a Youth Education Support Coordinator. The services of Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, psychology, vision and hearing are provided through a new local collaborative group consisting of six school divisions. This new collaboration was formed shortly after the government announced the end of the Regional Collaborative Service Delivery Program (RCSD) effective September 1, 2020.  During the presentation, the board of trustees asked Ploc to share some key areas in which greater government support is required that the board could advocate on behalf of PRSD students. Ploc shared that there is a shortage of mental health supports in all our communities (especially remote communities) which in turn creates long wait lists for services. She also shared the lack of Alberta Health Services trauma trained therapists available to serve students, and with the recent dissolution of RCSD from the Alberta Government, there is no longer in-school support from AHS for students with acute medical needs and students who require addiction supports and services.

Trustee Tours cancelled for 2020-2021 School Year
The board of trustees voted to cancel Trustee School Tours for the current school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In previous years, the board of trustees scheduled and attended formal trustee tours at PRSD schools that included meetings with staff, students and physical tours of PRSD schools. The board voted to cancel the meetings this year to ensure the safety and health of students and staff related to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It was suggested that if the status of the pandemic changes in the new year, trustee tours may be reconsidered.

Policy reading and timeline
The board passed first and second reading of Policy 2 Role of the Board, Policy 2 Appendix A Board Annual Work Plan, Policy 7 Board Operations, Policy 7 Board Operations Appendix A – Bylaw No. 1-95, Policy 7 Board Operations Appendix B – Bylaw No. 1-2013 and, Policy 7 Board Operations Appendix C – Ward Boundary Review.