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April 15, 2021 Regular Board Meeting Highlights

PRSD will not pilot K-6 curriculum
Peace River School Division has decided it will not pilot any new curriculum during the 2021-2022 school year. “After a careful review of the curriculum, we have decided we will not participate in piloting any of the new curriculum during the next school year” says Superintendent Bennett. “In addition to concerns with the new K-6 curriculum, we are also very reluctant to add extra stress to our students and staff during an already very stressful time.” During the board meeting on April 15, 2021, the board of trustees requested that the Superintendent of Schools invite staff and school communities to provide their input about the curriculum by noting areas of strength and concern. The feedback collected will provide administration and the board with valuable information that can assist with future work regarding curriculum development and implementation. The board also directed administration to request meetings with Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education and Todd Loewen, Central Peace Notley MLA and, Dan Williams, Peace River MLA to discuss the curriculum and feedback collected from staff, parents and community members.  

Trustees discuss Student Mental Health and Wellness Survey next steps
The board discussed advocacy opportunities stemming from input on the PRSD Student Mental Health and Wellness survey that was administered to students in grades 7-12, all PRSD parents, and PRSD staff in early February 2021. One of the findings on the survey showed that 57% of parents indicated that when seeking support for their child, that the first place they go is the school for help. The board agreed with the need to share this result with elected officials and advocate that government fund Social Worker, Youth Education Support Worker, Success Coach and Family Liasion positions (as they currently do not) and properly support school divisions to support student mental health and wellness. “Our families are already coming our way for support and we need the government to fund these positions and enhance the level of support for families to make sure they get the help they need” says Kuester. A summary report of the Student Mental Health and Wellness Survey findings will be released to the public later this week. Another area of advocacy for the board is to request that the government fund medical services required for students with special needs in school. The government of Alberta discontinued funding for Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide medical services for high need students in schools. “It is crucial that the government provide AHS with the funding to allow trained medical staff to come in our schools and administer medical services our students with special needs require” says Kuester. “This type of service should not be left on the shoulders of school staff.”  The board directed administration to request a meeting between the board and local Members of Legislature and the Minister of Education to discuss these advocacy topics. 

Board approves PRSD’s nominee for the Zone 1 Edwin Parr Teacher Award 
During the regular board meeting, the board of trustees approved the nomination for PRSD’s 2021 Edwin Parr Teacher Award. The Edwin Parr Teacher Award recognizes first year teachers that demonstrate exemplary dedication and commitment in the field of education. PRSD congratulates all nominees and will release further details regarding the board selected nominee in an official media release later this week. Each year, the Alberta School Board Association honours outstanding first-year teachers representing six zones throughout the province with this important award. 

Board reviews PRSD’s 2021-2022 Funding Profile
Secretary-Treasurer Rhonda Freeman reviewed PRSD’s government funding profile as provided by Alberta Education with the board of trustees. The funding profile is provided to all Alberta School Boards by Alberta Education and outlines education funding provided by the government for the upcoming school year. Trustees and leadership staff will meet on May 5, 2021 to discuss and plan for the 2021-2022 PRSD budget. 

Board looks forward to engaging with PRSD students
Trustees discussed their April 21, 2021 virtual meeting with PRSD’s Student Engagement Teams.  Agenda items consist of suggestions brought forth by the students as well as student feedback on the PRSD Education Plan in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and inclusion in PRSD schools. Agenda items brought forth by the students include topics related to mental health, school athletics, blended learning, school facilities, career and technology studies and extra-curricular programming.  PRSD has two student engagement committees: an Upper Elementary/Junior High committee and a High School committee. The goal of the Student Engagement Committees is to ensure that students and their schools are represented and have their concerns heard as well as to allow the board to understand the student perspective on issues and decisions that impact them. "It is empowering for students to have a voice in their educational experience and the educational experience of students for years to come" says Board Chair Darren Kuester. "The board is always eager and excited to meet, listen, share and brainstorm with students. Their voice informs decision making in the division and we are grateful for their ideas, input and enthusiastic participation."

PRSD to launch new websites in May
Technology Services Manager Shayne Pierson and Communications Coordinator Vanessa Burns provided the board of trustees with an update regarding the launch of PRSD’s new divisional and school websites. The new sites set to launch on May 17, 2021 will provide users with modernized and organized sites to access divisional and school information. Direct links to social media platforms, a consistent look and feel throughout all sites, optimized navigation, specific access points for students, parents and staff are some of the features of the new sites. PRSD posted a Request for Proposals for a new website provider during the fall of 2020 and after reviewing the 13 responses received, Rally (formerly Box Clever) was chosen as PRSD’s website provider. Rally is an Edmonton based company that specializes in educational website design and support and currently holds website contracts with 21 Alberta school divisions. The implementation is well-underway and training for staff is set to take place on April 23, 2021 for Central Operations staff and on the May 3, 2021 Professional Development Day for school-based staff. 

Board to engage with parents during annual Council of School Council meeting 
Trustees discussed agenda topics for their upcoming virtual meeting with PRSD’s Council of School Councils. PRSD’s Council of School Councils is comprised of parent representatives from each of PRSD’s School Councils. The board of trustees meets with the Council of School Councils bi-annually to engage with, support and provide professional development opportunities for PRSD’s School Councils. Topics on the agenda include the Student Mental Health and Wellness survey, PRSD’s Education Plan, K-6 draft curriculum and the sharing of information from parent attendees at the virtual Alberta School Councils’ Association annual conference. 

Indigenous Education Departmental Update
Holly Crumpton, PRSD’s First Nation Metis and Inuit Education Coordinator provided the board with a presentation outlining Indigenous teaching, learning, supports and student achievement in PRSD. The presentation outlined work being done to support Indigenous student achievement and as well as the work being done to enrich Indigenous learning opportunities for all students. Crumpton spoke of the increased success of students with the extensive and collaborative assessment practices that consistently take place in schools. Crumpton meets with school leadership at all schools to discuss Indigenous achievement at the end of each semester. These meetings allow for targeted supports and interventions to be put in place that result in increased student success. She also shared PRSD’s student involvement in the Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Fairview and the Sisters in Spirit Walk in Peace River. Students from Fairview High School and Grimshaw Public School were honored to create tobacco ties for the community events. On the horizon, students throughout the division in grades 9-12 will be welcome to attend the virtual Aboriginal Youth Career Workshop, and Indigenous graduates will be celebrated in a virtual graduation ceremony with family and friends. Graduates will experience the high honor of receiving an Eagle Feather in-person at their respective school as well as the important teachings that come with this honor. “I would like to acknowledge the hard work being done at each of our schools to support Indigenous student success as well as to enrich the learning of all students even while following necessary safety guidelines” says Crumpton. 

Trustees share information about the Rural Mental Health Animators Program 
Ward Six Trustee Robyn Robertson and Ward Five Trustee Lori Leitch provided the board with an update on their involvement in the Rural Mental Health Animators Program in which both Robertson and Leitch are trained animators. Animators support ideas and promote collaboration to put mental health initiatives in action. The program provides grassroots support for mental health and wellness in rural communities while ensuring the community is a part of the process and conversations. During their training for the Rural Mental Health Animators Program they are required to create a project that asks “Are you a mentally healthy community?” Both Robertson and Leitch are working on projects that include community involvement and engagement as a means to develop a community coalition in support of mental health and wellness. Robertson and Leitch became involved and are serving as animators to keep the momentum of increased mental health awareness going in communities and to compliment the advocacy work of PRSD towards maintaining and improving wrap-around services (supports for mental health, addiction, physical and learning disabilities) in PRSD schools. 

Policy Work 
The board passed third and final reading of Policy 9 – Board Representatives and passed first and second reading of Policy 4 – Appendix – Trustee Code of Conduct Sanctions. Trustees also performed an annual review of Policy 19 Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environment and Policy 19 – Appendix Student Code of Conduct.

Apr 16, 2021

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