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Under the Northern Lights - December 10, 2021

Good News Items

  • Terry Moghrabi, Associate Superintendent, highlighted that over 150,000 meals were provided to students at the five schools that are part of the division's nutrition program during the 2020-2021 school year. In 2021-2022 over 90,000 meals are scheduled. In addition to funding from the provincial government, NLPS received grants of $147,000 from the Breakfast Club of Canada, $23,000 from PC Children's Charities and $1,200 from APPLE Schools to help provide meals and snacks at schools throughout the division. Imperial Oil, Cenovus, TC Energy and the Lac La Biche County Social Committee have also provided funding for the 2021-2022 school year.

  • Dallin Schmidt, Communications Assistant, presented highlights from the division's schools over the past couple of weeks. The full presentation is available on our website: Good News - December 10, 2021. 

Inclusive Education Summary 

Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent, reviewed the annual Inclusive Education Summary with trustees. She noted that while more checks and balances have been put in place to ensure the right assessments are in place for students, the number of students requiring inclusive education services has been increasing over the last couple of years. There are currently 330 students identified as having severe disabilities, 615 students identified as having mild-moderate disabilities, and a total of 1,613 students who have individual program plans (IPP's) or behaviour support plans (BSP's) in place. Over 25% of NLPS students have been identified as requiring support.

NLPS has renamed its PUF program for preschool-aged children as Little Lights and has done a lot of work over the last year to make changes to the program to better meet the needs of students. NLPS is given a set amount of funding for this program that is based on a historic profile. The amount is not adjusted based on actual enrolment in the program. Funding has been reduced to almost one-third of what it was previously and the division is having to stretch that funding to serve more students. Irvine noted that while pre-Kindergarten enrolments decreased last year due to COVID, those numbers have increased this year, along with Kindergarten enrolments. The division currently has 440 students enrolled in Kindergarten and received funding for intervention for 65 students.

The division has created a Health Pathways team (speech language pathologists, occupational therapists as well as assistants in both disciplines) to provide services to students. Caseloads have increased exponentially since Alberta Health Services restricted service to students in these areas. Current caseloads include 460 speech language pathology and 158 occupational therapy cases.  This has been challenging, particularly as it is difficult to recruit and retain staff that have the appropriate credentials. Universal services are being offered at all schools to support the high caseload numbers and assist with meeting needs in classrooms. 


Draft 2022-2023 School Calendar

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent, reviewed the draft 2022-2023 school calendar with trustees. e noted that in 2021-2022 the division made several changes to its traditional calendar, increasing operational days by 1.5 and decreasing instructional days by two to provide staff with four professional development days spread out during the school year. 

The draft 2022-2023 calendar resembles the one for the current year and includes Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30 as a day off for students and staff. In total there are 178 instructional days and 192 operational days. 

All stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft calendar following the Winter Break.


COVID Update

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent, provided the Board with an updated on COVID-19 in the division. Two schools remain in outbreak status, but case numbers have been decreasing.