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December 21 Board Meeting Highlights

Scholarship Endowment Fund

The Board of Trustees have agreed to accept a scholarship endowment gift for Peace River High School from the estate of former Peace River Mayor Michael Proctor. Proctor served four terms as Mayor of Peace River between 1986 and 1998. Proctor is remembered by the Town of Peace River as having been instrumental in the establishment of the Peace River pulp mill.

Upon accepting the scholarship endowment gift, the Peace River Board of Trustees also chose to form a committee to handle the disbursement of the scholarship inclusive of representation from Peace River High School, central office administration, and the Board of Trustees.

Strategic Planning

The Board of Trustees received a presentation from Superintendent Adam Murray regarding feedback from school administrators on the next educational plan. In addition to providing the board with the administrator’s comments, he also spoke to the board about how the next education plan could be used to steer the board’s direction when it comes to advocacy.  

Following Murray’s presentation, the board held a lengthy discussion, described as encouraging by several members of the Board of Trustees. In order to keep the conversation going, the board will meet on January 11 to informally discuss how they would like to move forward with advocacy, gaining feedback from students and teachers, and attendance, which continues to be an issue within the Peace River School Division.

Student Supports and Interventions

The board heard from Amanda Bliska, director of learning services, regarding the various supports and interventions the PRSD provides to students. She explained that approximately 12 percent of PRSD students have learning codes and approximately 47 per cent of those coded students have severe learning needs. In response to a question from Trustee David Rushton, Bliska did confirm that not all students who receive learning supports within the division are coded, which means there are, in actuality, many more students who receive various learning supports and interventions.

Bliska also spoke about the success of the Mental Health in Schools pilot project. She explained that this program has allowed the division to provide much more universal mental health supports to all students within the division. She then concluded her presentation by requesting that the board continue to advocate for permanent mental health programming in schools, as well as increased child and youth psychiatric care in the north.

Red Earth Creek School Update

Superintendent Murray provided an update on three ongoing capital projects, the first of which is in the community of Red Earth Creek where the Division is in the design phase of a new school to replace the existing Red Earth Creek School. While the Division has received tremendous support from the local municipality, Murray reported that Alberta Infrastructure has not allotted the Division enough new building space for this growing school community. As a result, he has continued to advocate for additional space, and encouraged the board to advocate for this much-needed space as well. The Board of Trustees then discussed the need for adequate CTS space at Red Earth Creek School.

“We’re committing to exposing students at a way younger level to the trades,” said Trustee Rushton. “But we can’t do that in a space that’s smaller than my living room,”

During the discussion, Trustee Marie Dyck brought up Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s mandate letter to the Minister of Advanced Education from earlier this year that stated as early as junior high, that the skilled trades education track should be highlighted as a desirable education pathway leading to desirable careers. Following more discussion, Trustee Rushton moved that administration draft a letter requesting a trades centre be located within the community of Red Earth Creek.

Manning Aurora Composite School

Murray spoke briefly on the progress at Manning Aurora Composite School, stating that construction continued to progress as anticipated.

Future of Education in Fairview

The final capital project Murray spoke about was the Fairview schools project, which is in the planning phase. He explained following the news that Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools (GPCSD) would need to permanently close the doors of St. Thomas More School, the Peace River School Division expressed a willingness to assist the Catholic Division with their need for land to place a new modular school building. However, GPCSD chose to go another route.

On December 19, GPCSD announced they are requesting that Alberta Infrastructure place a standalone modular school for K-Grade 9 students on the grounds of Northwestern Polytechnic in Fairview, complete with library, office space, and a playground.

Prior to the news about St. Thomas More being released, the PRSD, GPCSD, and Northwestern Polytechnic had agreed to further investigate the possibility of placing a Jr./Sr. high school on the grounds of the college campus, and a joint-use K-Grade 6 facility on another property, possibly the current Fairview High School grounds.

The Board of Trustees moved to invite the GPCSD Board of Trustees to Central Operations in Grimshaw to further discuss the future of education in Fairview, and tour the Grimshaw Shared Schools Facility on January 12.

Dec 22, 2023 Board Meeting Highlights Board of Trustees

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