Back to News

Under the Northern Lights - May 31, 2023

Good News Items

  • Board Chair Karen Packard congratulated graduates from Cold Lake High School. Their graduation ceremony was held on May 18th.

  • Board Chair Karen Packard also highlighted the recent Alberta School Boards' Association Zone 2/3 Edwin Parr banquet which recognized Alex Ryl as the NLPS nominee for this year's award for first year teachers. Several trustees were able to attend the banquet with Ryl. Packard noted it is an honour for NLPS to have teachers like Ryl working in the division.

  • Superintendent Rick Cusson shared positive feedback from school administrators about the recent opportunity they had to share their school plans with trustees and other administrators. He said they appreciated the dialogue and learning opportunity.

  • Nicole Garner, Communications and Public Relations Manager, presented highlights from schools across the division related to Truth and Reconciliation. The full presentation is available on our website: Good News - Truth and Reconciliation - May 31, 2023.


2023-2024 Budget

The Board reviewed the final draft of the 2023-2024 budget. It projects an $888,000 deficit at the end of the year.

Secretary-Treasurer Paula Elock explained there are three things that are considered when developed the budget: operating needs; capital demand; and reserve balances. The overall goal is to ensure that resources are deployed to maximize the educational impact.

The division is currently predicting an increase in enrollment for next year. Student profiles show an increasing need for student supports and that is reflected in staffing with an increase in educational assistants for next year. 

Next year, the division will receive $81.8 million in provincial funding, $10 million in federal funding, and $2.8 million from other revenue sources. There has been a significant increase in federal funding due to the success the division has had in accessing grants through Jordan's Principle. That funding has resulted in the division adding 100 full time equivalents in educational assistants.

Next year's budget includes increases in several areas to reflect changes made a result of feedback received from the Board's Student Advisory Council. This includes increases to academic counselling time at both the high school and middle school levels, and increases to custodial time to address cleanliness issues identified by students. 

The Board will have further discussion related to its reserves at an upcoming meeting. According to the budget, the Board should finish the 2023-2024 school year with $1.8 million in unrestricted reserves, $3.3 million in operating reserves, and capital reserves of $2.1 million. The cap on the division's reserves, based on expenditures from the 2021-2022 school year is $2.9 million, leaving just over $900,000 in excess of the cap. Elock noted the Board has two options: request that the Minister of Education increase the Board's allowable limit; or request that the money be put into capital reserves. She noted the Board has been running deficit budgets to spend down reserves, but it has been difficult to meet projections due to difficulties in finding staff to fill vacant positions. 

The full budget can be found on the Budget page of the NLPS website.


2023-2026 Three-Year Education Plan

The Board reviewed the final draft of the 2023-2026 Three-Year Education Plan. Superintendent Rick Cusson noted the plan includes a commitment to re-engage stakeholders in a consultation about the division priorities during the 2024-2025 school year. 

The priorities in this year's plan remain that same: improving student mental health and wellness, and improving students numeracy skills and understanding. The Three-Year Education plan and each school plan include strategies to address both priorities. In addition, the plan outlines strategies to address assurance elements identified by Alberta Education for school divisions to focus on.

Cusson noted the plan includes strategies developed as a result of feedback received from the Student Advisory Council to the Board including upgraded academic counselling, and career counsellors at the middle school level. It also includes enhancing opportunities for the Registered Apprenticeship Program and work experience. 

The full Three-Year Education Plan is available on the NLPS website.


Staffing Update

Superintendent Rick Cusson reviewed the recent administrator staffing announcements that have been made. Erin Bowering will be the new Assistant Principal at North Star Elementary School in Cold Lake. This is a new position created as a result of configuration changes in that community. The new Assistant Principal at Cold Lake Junior High will be Colleen Yoshida. At Ecole Plamondon School, the new Assistant Principal will be Adrienne Peoples-Sprecker.

There is one Assistant Principal position that still needs to be filled at Glendon School. 


PSBAA award nomination

Board Chair Karen Packard congratulated the Bonnyville Friendship Centre on being recognized by the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta for their contributions to advancing the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While the Centre did not win this year's award from the PSBAA, the award committee felt they were deserving of recognition for the outstanding contributions they have made.


ASCA Report

Trustees reported on their attendance at the Alberta School Councils' Association, which they attended with several NLPS parents and guardians. They noted several excellent speakers and presentations, and highlighted the great connections NLPS parents were able to make with each other and with parents from across the province.