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Under the Northern Lights - October 25, 2023

Good News Items

  • Board Chair Karen Packard thanked the joint NLPS and ATA Local 15 committee that planned IGNITE 2023, a full day of professional development for all staff. Trustees enjoyed the opportunity to connect with staff and see everyone engaged in learning.
  • Board Chair Karen Packard congratulated the Cold Lake High School Royals on their recent win against the Lloydminster Barons.

  • Trustee Lois Phillips congratulated the organizers of the J.A. Williams High School Mini Wow Pow volleyball tournament. She noted it takes a phenomenal level of organization to bring so many people together to create a meaningful experience for student athletes.

  • Trustee Cheryl Edwards commended Bonnyville Centralized High School for the excellent turnout at their recent school council meeting. Edwards said she was looking forward to seeing what the group will accomplish.

  • Nicole Garner, Communications and Public Relations Manager, shared Good News Items from schools throughout the division focused on Engagement. The full presentation is available on our website: Good News - October 25, 2023 - Engagement.

Out of School Care Accountability Report

Associate Superintendent Jimmy Lou Irvine reviewed the annual Out of School Care Accountability Report with the Board. This report focuses on the division’s preschool, daycare, and before and after school care programs.

One highlight from the past year is the integration of the division’s Care to Learn Preschool program with its Little Lights programming for students who qualify for program unit funding (PUF). The two programs have been working together to determine how best to support all preschool students and include PUF students in preschool classes.

Another highlight was the adoption of the $10 per day daycare provincially. There have been a few challenges with implementation however, as the subsidy only applies to licensed programs and not all NLPS preschool programs are licensed. 

Irvine also shared some challenges the out of school programs face in providing services to local families. This includes changes to the PUF funding formula, and a tight labour market that is making it difficult to recruit and retain staff.

Enrolment Update

Superintendent Rick Cusson provided the Board with an update on enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year. Cusson was pleased to report that enrollments have returned to pre-pandemic numbers and this year's total enrollment is 5,849 students. That is an increase of 53 students over last year and just two fewer than what was projected. Cusson noted that the division is still working to resolve 20 priority school conflicts where students are enrolled in two systems and that enrolments in some areas, like PUF, are still trickling in.

One area experiencing growth is the division's Outreach schools. Cusson said in addition to NLPS students choosing that option for high school programming, students from other school divisions are also transferring into those schools.

ASCA Workshop

The division is inviting its school councils to participate in a workshop focused on parent fundraising societies and the relationship between school councils and fundraising groups. The workshop will be presented by the Alberta School Councils’ Association on November 5th in Bonnyville and November 6th in Lac La Biche. Trustees attended a similar session at an Alberta School Boards’ Association conference last year and identified it as something that would be beneficial for school councils in the division.

Truth and Reconciliation Committee

Trustee Lois Phillips reported on the most recent Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The committee reviewed the feedback and survey results from the division’s recent Indigenous Student Voice consultations with students. There were many highlights from the report, including that students were overall quite pleased with their experiences in NLPS schools and that there is a high level of parent involvement. Students also shared stories about experiencing bullying and racism and the committee noted these as areas that need to be addressed moving forward.