As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am unable to visit the schools in Ward 71 without the express invitation of principals or the Parent Advisory Council chair. According to our current Board policies, if I were to contact the principal directly, I could be sanctioned. Our Board is in the midst of updating these policies but at the rate we are going, they may finally be updated by the time the next election roles around in 2017! So I may have to abide by this old, restrictive policy for the rest of my time as your school trustee.
I have however, been offered a warm welcome by some chairs and some principals and had an opportunity to share with parents in person, my 2015 Update. Those who heard my presentation, told me they found it very informative and appreciated the effort I made to come out to their school in person. I wish I could give this presentation to more parents as I take my role as a school trustee seriously and believe that one of my responsibilities is to communicate to constituents some of the happenings in our district. We have many wonderful things going on in our district! I feel badly that I cannot bring you this good news in person.
Because I am limited in my abilities to communicate with parents, I made up a brochure which I have been handing out at Open Houses, being careful to remain on the public sidewalk at the front entrance of the schools. For those of you I have not had an opportunity to connect with, I have copied the content of my brochure below.
- We had an $8 million surplus due to the retirement of a large number of older teachers and hiring of new teachers at a lower pay scale. This surplus will be dedicated to repairing roofs and boilers.
- NAIT Collegiate: ECSD, EPSB and NAIT are working together to build a grade 9 –12 collegiate for students with an aptitude and passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The high school will be located on the Blatchford Lands near NAIT. The hope is that the school would open in September 2018.
- The student population of our metro schools has become increasingly complex due to the fact that our cities provide access to many specialized services. The Metro Boards of Edmonton Public and Catholic and Calgary Public and Catholic have noticed however that funding for our vulnerable students has either remained stagnant or decreased. The per student funding for English Language Learners for example, has decreased from $10,077 per student to $9,806 per student. The Metro Boards are working together to bring this issue to the attention of the provincial government.
- We have 8 new schools and 1 expansion which are funded and in the planning stages and will be built in areas of greatest growth.
- During the last round of teacher negotiations, a committee was struck called the “C2 Committee” to research how best to reduce teacher work load in the areas of inclusion, supervision, teacher time, and report cards.
- Inclusion: In response to feedback from teachers, our district is dedicating an additional $3.5 million for inclusion and $0.5 million for English Language Learners.
- Supervision: Each site is considering different ways that teacher supervision during lunch hours can be lightened so more teachers can have an actual lunch break.
- Teacher Time: Each site is finding creative ways that teacher tasks can be accomplished within the school day. One Thursday afternoon per month for example, is being dedicated to tasks of the teacher’s choosing e.g. report cards, planning.
- Report Cards: Efforts are being made to reduce teacher work load in regards to report cards. The use of drop down menus for comments, using Power School for ongoing reporting for Junior and Senior High are some ways the district is addressing this concern.
- Annual Numeracy Week: March 9-13, 2015. This week which is the brain child of Trustee Thibert, Ward 77 (Millwoods) is similar to Read In Week but promotes and celebrates numeracy using fun and engaging activities. The week will lead up to Pi Day which is on March 14, 2015 (Pi is 3.1415 so Pi Day is the 3rd month, 14th day, 2015)