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Board meeting highlights - August 19, 2021

School Re-entry Plan Summary
Incoming Superintendent Adam Murray reviewed PRSD's School Re-entry Plan Summary with the board of trustees. PRSD will follow the guidance of Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Education School Re-entry Plan. Masks are mandatory for all students and staff while riding the school bus (the government will reassess this on or before September 27, 2021). Cohorting, physical distancing and masking in schools are no longer required; however, should there be a respiratory illness outbreak at a school, some of these measures may be put in place for a short duration of time.  Principals will also ensure support for those staff and students who wish to wear masks for their protection during the school day. The plan, summary and other helpful COVID-19 response information are posted at prsd.ab.ca.

Change to PRSD's kindergarten entrance age

The board was provided with an update regarding a change to PRSD's kindergarten programming entrance age. The new age requirements are that a student attain the age of five years on or before December 31 of the school year in which the student applies for admission to a PRSD kindergarten program.  Learn more here.

Business carried out over the summer 
The board approved the report provided by Rhonda Freeman, Secretary-Treasurer that outlines a review of business carried over the summer. PRSD purchased seven school buses from Dynamic Bus Sales and Service to replace older models in the fleet as per Administrative Procedure 502, Acquisition of Equipment. A contract for parking lot and access improvements at TA Norris Middle School, Springfield Elementary School and Peace River High School was awarded to Wapiti Gravel Suppliers, a division of N.P.A. Ltd.

PRSD Anti-racism committee update
Incoming Superintendent Adam Murray provided the board with an update on the work of PRSD's Anti-racism committee. The committee will meet on September 8, 2021, and will be supported by facilitators from the Alberta Civil Liberties Centre (ACLRC). The ACLRC is a 38 year-old registered charity organization focused on human rights and civil liberties connected to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial and international laws. "ACLRC facilitators Pamela Dos Ramos, M.A. PhD and, Ayodeji Otiti LLP, LLM have extensive education and experience relating to human rights issues, and we are confident they will serve PRSD well" says PRSD Board Chair Darren Kuester.

Trustees discuss meeting with Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children's Services
Lori Leitch, Ward 5 trustee and Crystal Owens, Vice-Chair, provided the board with an update on their August 9, 2021 meeting with the Honorable Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children's Services and Dan Williams, Peace River MLA. Leitch and Owens shared results from PRSD's Student Mental Health and Wellness Survey, and discussed the challenges of retaining Divisional Social Workers and School-based Youth Education Support Workers (funding is usually provided on an annual basis). Trustees also shared concerns with the discontinuation of funding to support medical services for students with medical needs in school. Minister Schulz shared information about the Alberta Government's Child and Youth Well-Being Review with trustees, and received appreciation from PRSD for the new government funding targeted to support students in grades 1-3 who require extra help with literacy and numeracy due to disruptions in learning during the pandemic. Leitch and Owens commented on the very positive nature of the meeting and felt PRSD's concerns were noted and heard. The board made a motion for administration to write a letter of appreciation to Minister Schulz and MLA Dan Williams.

Treaty 8 and Métis Flag raising ceremony at Grimshaw Public School
Jeff Thompson, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, and Holly Crumpton, Indigenous Education Coordinator, shared preliminary plans for the Treaty 8 flag and the Métis flag to be raised at the Grimshaw Shared School Facility. Community stakeholders are holding a meeting on September 2, 2021 to finalize plans for the event. "The board extends gratitude to all involved for their time, work, and care in planning for these important flag-raising ceremonies" says Kuester. "This is the first of many, and we look forward to raising the Treaty 8 flag and the Métis flag at all of our schools."

Board to celebrate Fairview student at September board meeting
Neveah Lundgard, grade 9 student at Fairview Jr Sr High School will be celebrated in a special ceremony on September 16, 2021 with the board of trustees in recognition of her being selected for the Honoring Spirit; Indigenous Student Award. The provincial award sponsored by the Alberta School Boards Association celebrates the unique qualities of students who inspire their peers, teachers and education leaders and community members while celebrating the ways of their people. Learn more here.

Board to celebrate PRSD's Friends of Education and Edwin Parr Teacher Award nominees

Trustees discussed the upcoming Zone One Alberta School Boards Association Fall Awards Ceremony where Zone 1 nominees for the Friends of Education and Edwin Parr Teacher award will be recognized. PRSD's Friends of Education nominee is the late Jo-Anne Shaw, former Family Liaison Officer who served Fairview schools. Jo-Anne supported student mental wellness, physical wellness and provided programming and services within the school community for those in need. Jo-Anne was the first School Family Liaison worker in the Fairview area and was a catalyst in spearheading the position. PRSD's Edwin Parr First Year Teacher Award nominee is Arzouma Kalsongui, French Immersion teacher at Springfield Elementary School in Peace River. "Arzouma spends countless hours after school and on weekends preparing lessons that are both exciting and imaginative; she always seeks ways to engage her students in learning and in speaking French" says Elizabeth Green, former principal at SES.

Staff Kick-off

The board of trustees reviewed plans for the August 26, 2021 PRSD virtual annual Staff-kick off event. The day will open with Territory 8 Land Acknowledgement, the singing of O' Canada, opening remarks from Board Chair Darren Kuester and Incoming Superintendent Adam Murray. Staff throughout the division will join from their respective schools for various sessions focused on supporting students through Collaborative Response. Collaborative Response identifies student strengths, learning styles and specific needs and is rooted in the foundation of collaboration among staff, data-informed decisions, frequent and formative assessment practices, and timely intervention to ensure students are experiencing their full potential. Schools will host team meetings in the afternoon to review learning from the sessions and plan next steps in their local school context.

Transportation facility construction update
Jon Przybylski, Director of Support Services, and David Rushton, Transportation Manager provided the board with a construction update on the Transportation facility at Central Operations in Grimshaw. Trustees also took a tour of the facility, as well as renovations inside Central Operations that house PRSD Transportation Department staff and the PRSD Virtual Education Program.  The Transportation facility is nearing completion and includes six bays for school bus mechanic work (two of the bays have drive-on bus hoists), a smaller bay for PRSD service vehicles as well as a two-stall wash bay. The structure is joined to the existing Central Operations building through a connecting link. The board commended and expressed gratitude to PRSD's facilities, transportation, and management staff for their work on this important project. "The construction of the new facility and the renovations to the existing Central Operations building are nearing completion, and we are very pleased with the benefits that have already come with centralizing services in PRSD" says PRSD Board Chair Darren Kuester. "Having all our central services and staff under one roof allows for greater efficiencies and cost savings – which means we can more effectively serve and support our students."

PRSD supports 55+ Provincial Summer Games
The board directed administration to write a letter to the 55+ Provincial Summer Games committee to seek further information regarding ways PRSD can support and be involved. The 55+ Provincial Summer Games will be held in Peace River from June 16, 2022 to June 19, 2022.

Parents Matter Appreciation Week – November 15-19, 2021
The board of trustees officially declared November 15-19, 2021 as Parents Matter Appreciation Week.  The special week unique to PRSD gives students and staff the opportunity to recognize parents and guardians' important part in student learning and success. Parents Matter Appreciation Week was created in 2012 because of the overwhelming response of students during PRSD's online engagement initiative that asked, "How can parents be involved in student success?" Pancake breakfasts, video messages, bring your parents to school for a day, scavenger hunts, drive-through coffee events, family fun nights, sports games, and various treats and crafts created for parents and guardians are a few ways students show their appreciation to their parents and guardians during the special week of appreciation.

School Council enhancement in PRSD
Incoming Superintendent Adam Murray brought a recommendation to support the enhancement of School Council operation in PRSD schools. School Councils are structured groups of parents, school trustees, principals and teachers who work together to support and enhance student learning and well-being. School Councils provide a way for parents to be involved in their local school and a way for parents to consult with the principal and school board. "Our goal is to have vibrant School Councils who support and advocate for the best interests of students, staff and school communities," says Kuester.  The recommendations in the proposal were developed in consultation with PRSD staff who are currently enrolled in PRSD's Masters Cohort Program. As a part of the Masters Cohort Programming, staff evaluated and researched the effective operation of School Council groups. 

Trustees provide conference update
Vice-Chair Crystal Owens and Ward One Trustee Marie Dyck shared with the board key points from the Canadian Association of School System Administrators (CASSA) virtual conference held from July 7-9, 2021. The annual conference joined school system leaders across Canada together to learn and share information on current topics in education. Anti-racism, Mental Health, Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action are some examples of sessions at the virtual conference. Owens and Dyck commented that highlights from the conference were various mental health and wellness strategies shared by students at the conference that promote positive mental health, and to support students who are struggling.

Aug 23, 2021

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