Back to News

Under the Northern Lights - November 30, 2022

2022 Friends of Education Award - Cold Lake Public Library

The Board of Trustees presented the Cold Lake Public Library with a 2022 Friends of Education Award for their ongoing support of the division's schools and students. Among their many contributions, the Cold Lake Public Library organizes and hosts a Battle of the Books competition for students in Cold Lake every year.

The full news release is available on our website: 2022 Friends of Education Award - Cold Lake Public Library.

This is the first of four Friends of Education Award presentations the Board will be making this school year.


Annual Facilities Department Report

Facilities Director Leah Rout provided the Board with an update on the work the Facilities Department has been doing over the last year. Trustees commended the Facilities team on the amount of work orders completed during that time.

One of the challenges the department has faced over the last couple of years is a reduction in grant funding for summer students. Prior to COVID, the division received funding to hire around 15 summer students who were responsible for grass cutting and outdoor maintenance as well as assisting with other maintenance projects. Last year the division received funding for three positions for a period of only seven weeks. Rout explained that this has impacted the amount of work that is able to be done over the summer, particularly in regards to beautification and things like flower planters and gardens.

The Board also discussed the amount of money being spent to maintain facilities that the Board has declared surplus and are currently being leased to other school divisions and organizations while awaiting ministerial approval to dispose of the sites. This includes the former Central Elementary and Dr. Swift school sites in Lac La Biche and the former Grand Centre Middle School in Cold Lake. While the division does receive some funds to maintain those facilities, based in part on enrolment figures, it is not enough to cover the cost of repairs needed to maintain them. Trustees were concerned that money was being spent to maintain those facilities that could better be spent on facilities that are used by NLPS students.

Board Chair Karen Packard reported that NLPS was informed that their request to dispose of the two schools in Lac La Biche is still under review by the minister. There has been no update on the status of the disposal of the former Grand Centre Middle School. Trustees expressed concern about the length of time it had already taken to work through the disposal process. The Board initially declared Central Elementary as surplus in 2016 and was told in 2018 that it could not be disposed of. Earlier this year, the Board sent a letter with a new request to dispose of the facility. 

The Board made a motion to delay any remediation and building improvements that are not of an emergent nature to buildings that have been declared surplus until the Minister of Education rules on the buildings' status, and to write a new letter to the minister, outlining the Board's concerns about continued maintenance of surplus facilities, ongoing deficits in the division's facilities budget, and requesting an expedited response to the Board's request for disposal of the properties.


Audited Financial Statements

Jeff Alliston from the Metrix Group presented the Board with an Auditor's Report for the 2021-2022 school year. The division ended the year with a $2 million surplus, with deficits recorded in operations and maintenance and ECS.

The division currently holds $3.5 million in its operating reserves and $4.4 million in capital reserves.


Good News Items

  • Trustee Cheryl Edwards thanked the Iron River School and Bonnyville Centralized High School school councils for welcoming her to their recent meetings.

  • Trustee Edwards congratulated BCHS students and staff on hosting a successful Fair Trade Coffee House earlier this month. 

  • Several trustees highlighted their attendance at school Remembrance Day ceremonies and noted how respectful students were. They also commended 4 Wing Cold Lake on the quality of the speakers the base provided to schools for the ceremonies.

  • Trustee Debra Lozinski congratulated Kikino School on its commemoration of Proclamation Day and the events it hosted to celebrate.

  • Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent - Student Services and Indigenous Relations, congratulated the Ecole Plamondon School senior girls and senior boys volleyball teams on their participation in provincials. The boys' team won first place and the girls' team finished in fourth place. She attended a surprise assembly to recognize the athletes on Nov. 29th. She commended the students and coaches for the hard work and commitment they put in to get to provincials. The Board noted that the event was attended by Lac La Biche's mayor and the area's councillor and that it was nice to see that support from the community.

  • Trustee Roy Ripkens thanked the Duclos School and H.E. Bourgoin School school councils for the well-crafted letter they sent to the Education Minister outlining the issues being experienced by the student transportation system and the impact that is having on families.

  • Terry Moghrabi, Associate Superintendent - Curriculum and Programming, thanked Imperial Oil staff for their donation of several bins of personal hygiene items for the division's students. He also thanked the staff at Canadian Natural for raising $6,200 for food security programs for NLPS students during their golf tournament this summer, which was matched by the company for a total donation of $12,400.  

  • Superintendent Rick Cusson congratulated Learning Together Anywhere School Principal Brandon Isert on being selected as the Edmonton Oilers Teacher of the Month for November.
  • Trustee Blair Norton commended the Lac La Biche Festival of Trees committee and organizer Pat Boon Anderson on a successful event. Several Lac La Biche area schools were involved in the event and receive funds from the event. Over $60,000 was raised during the event.

  • Nicole Garner, Communications and Public Relations Manager, presented the Board with highlights from schools throughout the division. The full presentation is available on our website: Good News - November 30, 2022.


Fall Budget Update

Secretary-Treasurer Paula Elock presented the Fall Budget Update which included several changes to the 2022-2023 budget that was approved by the Board in May.

Revenues were adjusted due to an increase in enrolment which resulted in a preliminary increase in funding of around $900,000. Federal government revenues also saw an increase of almost $2 million due to an increase in Jordan's Principle funding. 

On the expenses side, certificated salaries increased due to the provincially negotiated agreement with teachers and support staff salaries increased due to an increase in the number of Educational Assistants being hired as a result of successful Jordan's Principle applications. 

The budget approved in the spring anticipated a year-end deficit of $151,000. In the updated budget, that has increased to $788,000.


Student Achievement/Scholarship Report

Terry Moghrabi, Associate Superintendent - Curriculum and Programming, provided the Board with a report on Student Achievement and a second report focused on Scholarships.

Many of the Student Achievement measures have not been available for the last two years due to COVID and the cancellation of Provincial Achievement Tests and Diploma Exams during that time. High school completion rates declined last year, which Moghrabi explained is likely due to the pandemic.

NLPS had a total of 543 students enrolled in Grade 12 in 2021-2022 - 365 in traditional high schools and 178 in Outreach programs. Approximately 50 students received scholarships, which is a slight decrease from last year. However, Moghrabi pointed out that schools only find out about scholarships if students or parents inform them of the awards. It is likely that the number of students receiving scholarships and the total amount granted is higher than what the division is aware of.

The number of students eligible for Rutherford Scholarships declined slightly from last year, but is still above 2018 and 2019 levels. Students are eligible for Rutherford Scholarships is they attain a minimum combined average in five designated courses in at least one grade at the high school level.

Last year, NLPS redesigned the scholarship section of its website to enhance information about available scholarships and databases. Awards administered by NLPs can be applied for online.

Staff Wellness/Occupational Health and Safety Report

Bill Driedger, Associate Superintendent - Teacher Quality and Professional Services, provided the Board with an overview of Staff Wellness initiatives that took place in 2021-2022 and an Occupational Health and Safety report.

Driedger noted that the return of the annual Staff Recognition Evening event and the gift of hoodies for all staff at Christmas last year were two initiatives that were well received by staff and contributed to a sense of community and well-being for staff in the division.

The division currently receives a 10% discount on its premiums from the Alberta School Employees Benefit Program. This provides extended health care, dental and vision benefits for staff and their families. Driedger noted that vision and dental claims increased last year, likely due to COVID restrictions being lifted and appointments for those services becoming more accessible. The forfeiture rate for Health Spending Accounts and Wellness Spending Accounts has decreased as staff are claiming more in those areas. The number of staff accessing services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program has remained similar to previous years, at 9.1%.

From the Occupational Health and Safety report, Driedger highlighted that the division receives a discounted rate from the Workers' Compensation Board and its claims are 44% below the industry average. The division is working towards a Certificate of Recognition (COR) and has hired a new Occupational Health and Safety coordinator to advance the work being done in that area.


School Council Reports

The Board reviewed the annual reports provided to them by school councils. The reports outeline the work the school councils have done over the last year and what fundraising, if any, that they did and how it was dispersed.

Board Chair Karen Packard thanked the school councils for providing the reports and congratulated them on their accomplishments last year.


2022-2023 Board Meeting Schedule Amendment

The Board adjusted several previously scheduled meeting dates. Updates have been made on the NLPS Board Meetings page.

Curriculum Implementation Update

Terry Moghrabi, Associate Superintendent - Curriculum and Programming, reviewed the results of surveys done with teachers in August and again in October to gauge their comfort with delivering the new curriculum in Kindergarten to Grade 6 and to identify potential professional development opportunities and resources that might be needed. The confortability level continues to improve and PD sessions will continue to be available throughout the year.

Work has also been done to adjust assessments and report cards to reflect the curriculum changes.

Moghrabi also shared that the division received a $107,000 learning disruption grant to provide support for students in grades 2 to 4.


Jordan's Principle Group Proposal

The Board approved a motion to enter into a two-year Contribution Agreement for the receipt of Jordan's Principle funding from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch beginning April 1.

NLPS submitted a group proposal to Jordan's Principle that will allow it to access resources for Jordan's Principle programming throughout the division, such as Speech Language Pathology, Occupational Therarpy, Educational Psychology assessments, and physiotherapy. This is in addition to individual proposals that are submitted for students.

Currently, 129 students have been approved for Jordan's Principle funding, which has resulted in funding for 90 educational assistants, as well as additional services and resources for those students. Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent - Student Services and Indigenous Relations, explained that individual applications sometimes included dollar amounts for services like occupational therapy but it was difficult to provide some of those supports with numerous small amounts of money. The group proposal, she explained, will allow the division to contract services and ensure the students who have been identified as needing those services are supported.

The agreement will provide the division with over $1 million in funding over two years.


Trustee Compensation Committee

The Board accepted recommendations from the Trustee Compensation Committee to the amounts that can be claimed for meals and private accommodations to reflect inflationary costs.