Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk expressed condolences to the family and friends of Peter Doonanco. Doonanco was a former educator and administrator at Glendon School, and a former NLPS trustee. Hyrnyk said Doonanco added a component of integrity and character to the Board and reminded his fellow trustees that it was important to have fun. Doonanco was known for his commitment to his community and the impact he had on the students of Glendon School, many of whom said they would not be the people they are today if it had not been for Mr. Doonanco.
Good News Items
- Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk commended teacher Erin Shulko and Aurora Middle School on organizing an amazing STEAM Challenge for students at that school. The students were competing to see who would represent Aurora at the upcoming NLPS STEAM Challenge on April 11 in Lac La Biche. Hrynyk noted the students were very engaged in the challenges that were presented to them.
- Trustee Garry Kissel thanked all of the Glendon School parents and community members who attended the NLPS Community Engagement meeting at the school last month. He reported that there was a good turnout and a lot of good feedback provided by participants. Trustee Debra Lozinski attended the Community Engagement session held at Caslan School and said she was pleased with the number of people in attendance and the positive things they shared about what their children are experiencing in school. There are several Community Engagement sessions being held throughout the division to collect input that will be used to develop the division's new Three-Year Education Plan. A full schedule of events is listed HERE.
- Trustee Lozinski also complimented NLPS staff on the excellent planning done to provide First Nations, Metis and Inuit professional development sessions for staff on the day prior to teachers' convention. She attended the one that was held in Lac La Biche, which included breakout sessions and a trade show.
- Trustee Karen Packard congratulated Mrs. Tuttosi's Grade 4 class at Cold Lake Elementary School on winning the division's Pink Shirt Day Video Challenge. She attended the school's assembly on Pink Shirt Day where all students in the school viewed the video, which focused on how to be a friend.
- Trustee Packard also congratulated Nelson Heights School on a successful Literacy Day lunch and Literacy Week activities.
Student Presentation - Bonnyville Outreach School
Bonnyville Outreach School students Martin Hassan, Reece Hunka and Jordyn Scott, along with Northen Lights Outreach Principal Elliott Bessey, Assistant Principal Lisa Gingras and teacher Rachel Browatzke, presented the Board with information and a video focusing on the school's renewed focus on meeting students where they're at to ensure their success.
The staff is dedicated to working with students no matter how hard they are to work with, said Hunka. Scott commented that at Outreach she is able to work at her own pace, get one-on-one help when she needs it and will be graduating early. Hassan explained that the staff at Bonnyville Outreach gave him options that weren't available at other high schools and that will allow him to get his high school diploma.
"At Bonnyville Outreach School we are a family," he said. "Learning should not be boring, it should be fun."
Gingras read a note from a student who was unable to attend the presentation. He wrote that after being hospitalized, he came to Bonnyville Outreach to finish his diploma and was blessed to be embraced by the staff and students who have helped him rehabilitate himself.
Browatzke explained that the staff look at all of the needs of the students - academic, social and emotional - to determine what they need to be successful and become positive contributing citizens.
Transportation Report and MELT Update
Director of Transportation Matt Richter reported that extremely cold weather had led to all buses not running for up to three days in a row in February, and several routes being cancelled on other days that month.
The introduction of MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) requirements continues to cause concern for the division. The provincial government announced that bus drivers will now have until July 31 to complete their MELT and S-Endorsement training. This addresses some of the concerns expressed by school divisions across the province. However, Richter noted that the training will be an issue when recruiting bus drivers.
NLPS will be sending two staff to instructor training so the division can offer the S-Endorsement course an MELT course, both of which will be mandatory for new bus drivers before they can transport students. The MELT course takes a total of 53.5 hours to complete including 18.5 hours in the classroom and 24 hours of driving. There is also a restriction on how many students can be take the course together. It takes 16-20 hours to complete the S-Endorsement course, but more people can be trained in one session. Richter said it may be difficult to train all of the new drivers that will be needed to ensure there are enough drivers for all of the division's bus routes when school starts in September. He noted there has been a 40% turnover in drivers in the last three years.
Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk noted trustees across the province have been lobbying the provincial government for more time to implement the training and for funding to help meet the new requirements. That lobbying effort will continue. The Board passed a motion to send a letter to the Minister of Transportation expressing its concerns.
Administration provided the Board with a first draft of the 2019-2022 Three- and 10-Year Capital Plan for review. It will come back to the Board later in the spring for discussion and approval before being submitted to Alberta Education.
Draft Board Policy 29 - Health and Wellness of Students and Staff
The Board reviewd a draft of Board Policy 29 - Health and Wellness of Students and Staff and approved it in principle. The new policy will now be sent out to stakeholders to feedback before coming back to the Board for review and final approval.
CEU Cap Decision
The Board was pleased to learn that Alberta Education was not clawing back funds from boards where high school students earned more than 45 credits last year. NLPS has been facing a clawback of approximately $275,000.
Superintendent Rick Cusson noted that number does not illustrate the total impact of the government's decision to cap high school credits at 45 credits per student per year. He explained that many students may have opted to not take classes they were interested in because they didn't want to exceed the cap. As well, some Northern Lights students did earn more than 45 credits last year but the school did not request funding for the credits because they knew the student was over the cap. He suggested the true financial impact would be closer to $400,000.
Collaboration Dates Set for Caslan, Ardmore and Iron River
For the last few years, Ardmore, Iron River and Caslan School students have had three additional no school days added to their school calendars to accommodate staff collaboration days.
The Board approved November 1, January 31 and March 23 as the collaboration days for those schools in the 2019-2020 school calendar. Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent - System Improvement, noted each of the schools has five additional minutes added to instructional time each day to make up for the time lost due to the collaboration days.
Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent - Teaching and Learning, explained that the initial request to establish the collaboration days came as a result of parents supporting the need for staff at the small K-8 schools to have time to plan and share together. She also indicated that the opportunities for teachers to work with other teachers that teach the same grades and/or subject matter had improved staff retention.
The Board reviewed information received from the Minister of Education regarding seclusion rooms. Superintendent Rick Cusson reported that Northern Lights does not have seclusion rooms like the ones that have been depicted in the media. Some schools do have sensory rooms and calming rooms that are used to help students self-regulate. The division will be working with staff to ensure that the correct terminology is being used and the protocols are being followed to ensure those spaces are not used as seclusion rooms.