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Under the Northern Lights - March 9, 2022

Cold Lake and District Family and Community Support Services Presentation

Kim Schmidtz from Cold Lake and District FCSS provided the Board with an overview of the services that FCSS provides to families and children in the Cold Lake area. This includes services related to homelessness, family violence, bullying, poverty reduction, and emotional resiliency. The focus is on early intervention and prevention, but they also assist in crisis situations. 

In relation to local schools, FCSS partners with schools on many projects. Sometimes this includes grant funding. Projects have included providing snack packs to schools, supporting Community Helpers, running a Home Alone program to help younger students prepare to be at home without parental supervision, and events like Pink Shirt Day, which had over 700 students participate from throughout Cold Lake.


Good News Items

  • Superintendent Rick Cusson congratulated Nicole Garner, Dallin Schmidt, Paula Elock, Heather Stromquist, Ashley Currie and Carolina Franke, for receiving Bravo Awards from the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education. NLPS received a Coup de Coeur Award for its Positive Signs campaign in May 2020, and Awards of Distinction for its Cold Lake Configuration Engagement and the Northern Lights Public Schools Questions and Answers Facebook group. 

  • Board Chair Karen Packard shared that she and Cold Lake Middle School Principal Chan Cusson had been interviewed by Prime Time Local News about the renaming of CLMS and the process for collecting public feedback.

  • Trustee Cheryl Edwards reported that she had attended local school council meetings and the parents were appreciative of having Board representation at their meetings.

  • Dallin Schmidt, Communications Assistant, presented the Board with Good News from schools throughout the division. The presentation is available on our website: Good News - March 9, 2022.


BCHS Grand Opening

With COVID restrictions lifted, the Board discussed potential dates for holding an official grand opening for Bonnyville Centralized High School. The event will likely take place in May, with a specific date to be confirmed at a future board meeting.


COVID Update

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent, noted that there have been many changes to COVID restrictions in relation to schools since March 1, when the government entered phase two of removing restrictions. Masking is no longer required and students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 are longer required to remain in cohorts. Capacity limits have also been removed and physical distancing recommendations have been replaced with strategies to avoid crowding.

Driedger noted that the new Guidance for Schools (K-12) and School Buses now contains just a few requirements and many recommendations. NLPS schools will continue to focus on hand hygiene, cleaning and ventilation. It is recommended that students and staff continue to screen for symptoms and follow the guidelines in the Alberta Health Daily Checklist. Isolation requirements are still in place for individuals who have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. 

Driedger recommended that the Board reconsider its previous motion requiring schools to share information with families when positive cases are identified. With changes to testing availability and to COVID restrictions, very few individuals are reporting confirmed cases to schools. The Board will discuss this further at the next board meeting.


Cold Lake Middle School Renaming

Superintendent Rick Cusson reported that the community engagement process for the renaming of the school had been launched and will run until April 5. Any member of the public that would like to provide feedback on changing the name of Cold Lake Middle School to Cold Lake Junior High can go to Engage NLPS and share their thoughts in the discussion forum that has been set up. 


Draft Capital Plan

Secretary-Treasurer Paula Elock presented the Board with a draft Capital Plan to review. The Board's plan needs to be submitted to Alberta Education at the end of the month.

The current priorities are a replacement school for Vera M. Welsh Elementary School in Lac La Biche, a modernization at Ecole Plamondon School, a new school for Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement, and a modernization of North Star Elementary School in Cold Lake.

Elock noted that enrollment is starting to increase at North Star as the configuration of the school changes to a K to 6, and the Board may want to consider moving that project up on the list and changing it from a modernization to a replacement school. 

The Capital Plan will come back to the Board for approval on March 23.


Alberta Education Budget 2022 Presentation

Board Chair Karen Packard reviewed the highlights from the government's recent Budget 2020 announcement in relation to education. The division will receive its funding profile at the end of March and will get a better idea of what its funding looks like for 2022-2023 at that time. The division is also waiting for details on some grants to be released to determine how that will impact funding and the services it provides to students.