The October 26 Board meeting began with Secretary/Treasurer Rhonda Freeman swearing in two new trustees. David Rushton was elected following a by-election held October 25 to represent Ward 6, and Edith Giesbrecht was acclaimed following nomination day on September 27 to represent Ward 7.
Superintendent Adam Murray presented the board with an update on enrollment numbers. Murray began by highlighting some of the Division’s greatest areas of growth by drawing the Board’s attention to Fairview area schools. Fairview High School ended the year in 2023 with an enrollment of 270 students; currently the enrollment at FHS is 292 students. At E.E. Oliver, it was projected that the enrollment for the 2023-24 year would be approximately 264 students, however they are already sitting at 271 students. Similarly, the Fairview and Area Learning Store projected a total enrollment of 19 students, but have 31 students enrolled currently.
Two other schools that have experienced growth are Peace River High School and Red Earth Creek School. Peace High increased enrollment by 27 students this year, while Red Earth has seen an increase in enrollment of 25 students.
“Really good news here,” Murray said about Red Earth Creek School. “They keep growing.”
The total enrollment across all PRSD schools, including Peace Home Learning Connection was 3,058 on September 30. This represents an increase of 34 students from June, 2023. Murray concluded by saying he expects that this number will continue to grow throughout the school year.
The Board of Trustees have agreed to hold a special meeting on November 23 at 9 a.m. to meet with the auditors to review the 2022-23 audited financial statements and learn about new asset retirement obligation (ARO) standards that must be incorporated into this year’s audited financial statements.
“We have been unsuccessful in recruiting members of the public to sit on the Audit Committee for the presentation of the audited financial statements, because of this it would be beneficial for the auditors to present the audited financial statements to the entire Board and explain the ARO accounting policy,” Freeman explained.
Deputy Superintendent Jeff Thompson led the board through a presentation of student achievement in the 2022-23 year. While the data provided by the province regarding Provincial Achievement Test (PAT) results and Diploma Exam results is under an embargo until the end of November, Thompson shared some encouraging results from the Division’s local report card data.
These results suggested a shift is taking place in the academic performance of PRSD Indigenous students in relation to their non-Indigenous cohorts. The gap in achievement that has typically existed is narrowing, Thompson said. Twenty-eight per cent of the PRSD student population are self-declared Indigenous students.
This shift in performance is particularly good news for the Division, Thompson said, because it means the PRSD is getting closer to achieving their motto of “Learning together - success for all.”
Request from Peace Region Minor Football
The Board reviewed a request from Peace Region Minor Football to place a campshack on the PRSD property line between T.A. Norris and the Glenmary Football field. The football club has had a campshack donated to them for the purpose of replacing the existing booth on the Glenmary property. The existing booth is aging and it has become more difficult for the Football club to obtain food permits because of work that needs to be done to the structure.
While the board had a number of questions regarding the size of the campshack, insurance requirements, and utility needs, they ultimately approved a motion directing administration to speak with the football club regarding a joint-use agreement, and requested to have that agreement brought back to a future meeting for board approval.
“I love the idea of it. It’s a community-minded thing and I like being community minded,” said Vice Chair Lacey Buchinski.
Board Chair Crystal Owens declared a conflict of interest prior to the discussion taking place and excused herself from the room for the discussion on this topic and returned after the motion was passed, 6-0.
Trustee Moise Dion brought forward a discussion regarding Policy 7, Board Operations. Dion said he specifically wanted to address section 12, which speaks to trustee compensation and expenses. Dion said he felt there is too much room in the policy for misinterpretation. The Board held a discussion regarding Dion’s concern where everyone had the chance to speak to their own interpretation of the policy.
“I interpret it, when I do work for the Board I expect to be paid, end of story. But, if I am not working for the Board, then I don’t get paid,” said Trustee David Rushton.
Trustee Lori Leitch confirmed that Policy 7 was on the policy committee’s schedule to review during this school year. She said she agreed with Dion, in that the policy does require some amendments for the sake of clarity.