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Under the Northern Lights - February 22, 2023

Good News Items

  • Trustee Garry Kissel highlighted Glendon School Literacy Night, held on January 27th. The event featured a community supper followed by a treasure hunt and other literacy-themed activities. 
  • Board members commended the Endless Skies Teachers' Convention Association on the quality and variety of professional development offered as the recent convention. Many trustees were able to attend, connect with staff, and learn from the sessions offered.

  • Trustee Cheryl Edwards and Board Chair Karen Packard thanked the ATA for hosting a Round Table conversation on Feb. 26 in Cold Lake. Both of them enjoyed the positive conversation about how to meet the needs of students.

  • Trustee Cheryl Edwards thanked Bonnyville Centralized High School for the opportunity to be a judge for this year's Youth Philanthropy Initiative. She commended the students on the outstanding presentations that highlighted local non-profit organizations. 

  • Trustee Mandi Skogen expressed appreciation for the many local organizations that support NLPS schools and students. In particular, she highlighted the work being done by the Lakeland Centre for FASD and The Dragonfly Centre, which provide education and support for both staff and students. 

  • Board Chair Karen Packard congratulated Kennidy Hardy from Cold Lake Junior High on winning the division's 2022 Christmas Card Artwork Contest. Packard presented Hardy with her prize earlier this week.

  • Board Chair Karen Packard thanked Cold Lake school council members for participating in a regional school council meeting following the January board meeting. There was great discussion, collaboration, and celebration of things happening in Cold Lake schools.

  • Superintendent Rick Cusson highlighted the two-day professional development session held for teams from each NLPS school that focused on Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports. Seventy staff took part in the session where they were empowered to realize the valuable role they can play in improving mental health for students. Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent, explained that session presenter Tom Hierck will do a condensed 90-minute session for all staff on the March 9 division PD day and then school teams will collaborate with all staff at their schools to develop a behaviour matrix and supports for their schools. On April 24, the teams will return to division office to review the work they have done and plan how to start the next school year with expectations around behaviour.

  • Nicole Garner, Communications and Public Relations Manager, presented highlights from schools throughout the division. The full presentation is available on our website: Good News - February 22, 2023.

2023-2024 School Calendar

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent, presented the Board with a revised 2023-2024 School Calendar. The calendar had been shared with stakeholders for feedback and one change was made as a result. Two instructional days were shifted from Semester 2 to Semester 1 to address feedback from high schools that inclement weather impacts are most often felt in the first semester.

Driedger summarized the feedback received from parents and staff and noted that the majority of comments fell into three themes. While some families indicated they would like the Christmas break to start earlier, others indicated they appreciated more time after Christmas. There was slightly more support for more of the break falling after Christmas.

There were comments received about how there seem to be fewer Family Fridays. Driedger explained that the calendar maintains the same number of instructional and operational days as previous calendars. So the total number of days that students and staff are in schools remains the same. He noted that more Family Fridays could be added to the calendar, but that would mean either reducing the number of instructional days or staring the school year earlier. Previous feedback has indicated that families prefer school start up to take place after Labour Day.

The third trend in the feedback was a suggestion that the division's IGNITE day, a day of professional development for all staff, be moved to the day after Halloween. However, Driedger explained that would mean a day off in the middle of the week, which is not desirable for families, particularly those who would need child care, and it would also create challenges for staff preparing for the event.

The calendar has 178 instructional days (when students and teachers are in class together) and 192 operational days (staff are at work, but no students are in school). Driedger explained that 178 instructional days is consistent with other school divisions in the province and does not provide much flexibility in meeting the required instructional time for students if there are multiple days when classes are cancelled due to inclement weather.

The Board approved the 2023-2024 with the amendment to adjust the number of days in the first and second semesters. The final version of the calendar is available on our website: 2023-2024 School Calendar.


2024-2025 School Calendar

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent, presented a draft 2024-2025 School Calendar for approval in principle. The calendar is similar to the calendar approved for 2023-2024 with 178 instructional days and 192 operational days, a two-week Christmas break, and a start date after Labour Day.

The Board tabled further discussion on the draft calendar until April.


ASCA Conference

The Board is encouraging parents involved in school councils to attend the Alberta School Councils' Association Conference in April. Every year, the Board covers the cost of six parents to attend. School councils will be contacted with more information. 


Board Policies

The Board approved revisions to Policy 11 - Board Delegation of Authority.

The Board also approved in principle revisions to Policy 13 - Appeals and Hearings Regarding Student Matters and Policy 16 - Senior Administrative Appointments. Those policies will be shared with all stakeholders for feedback before coming back to the Board for final approval. 


Board Blended Mark Scholarships

The Board reviewed a decision made previously to suspend the award of blended mark scholarships until the end of the 2022-2023 school year. 

Superintendent Rick Cusson explained that instructional dollars cannot be used to fund student scholarships. If the Board wanted to reinstate the scholarships, it would need to find an alternate revenue source to fund them. The Board decided that it would end the program.


MD of Bonnyville School Resource Officer Update

The Board received a letter from the Municipal District of Bonnyville stating that it was reducing the number of School Resource Officers available to schools from two to one. Superintendent Rick Cusson said the division will have an opportunity to engage in a discussion about the future of that program along with other school divisions that are impacted.