February 11, 2015
It’s an honour and privilege to introduce myself as your new Board Chair! Two weeks ago, my fellow Trustees acclaimed me in this new role and I couldn’t feel prouder or more fortunate to take on this greater leadership responsibility and have further opportunities to lead on behalf of our 90,000 students. I want to take this opportunity to thank Trustee Sarah Hoffman, who served as our Vice-Chair for two terms (Nov 2010-Sept 2012), and our Chair for two terms and five months (Sept 2012- Jan 2015), for her commitment to our students and the community. Working with Sarah in my role as Vice-Chair for the last two years, I felt ready to hit the ground running –and, wow, are we running!
A few weeks ago, Superintendent Robertson and I had the opportunity to meet with Minister Dirks. As a former Board Chair himself from the Calgary Board of Education, he understands the pressures that we’re facing as a metro board. We shared our perspective on the Edmonton context, discussing some of the specific challenges we’re facing as a District. We talked about our growing student population, which has increased by about 12 per cent or 10,000 students in the last four years. Given these growth pressures, we discussed our need for new schools and our goal to provide every student with a high quality learning environment in a new or fully modernized school. We also stressed the importance of working in partnership with the Government to be responsive to the greater diversity we’re seeing in our classrooms. We serve 18,000 English Language Learners, 11,000 students with special needs and 7,900 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students – numbers that grow each year. Finally, we discussed the new Education Act and about how we required further clarity in a few key areas. We hope to have more opportunities to walk through these issues with the Minister in the near future.
Recently, our Board also had the chance to attend the Capital Region Caucus, where we met with MLAs from the greater Edmonton area. While we only had 15 minutes to meet, we reinforced what we spoke about with the Minister, and also looked ahead to the provincial budget announcement. We know this is going to be a tough budget, but we need as much flexibility as a District to concentrate dollars in our high-needs areas. We’re eager to support the Minister’s mandate to make predictable and sustainable funding a reality for public education. This funding model would help us move to a place of greater financial certainty, and that’s key to strengthening our commitment to getting our students the supports and resources they need to be successful. We provided the MLAs at the meeting with a summary of our key points.
Over the last few weeks, we were fortunate to do some storytelling. At two very important meetings with provincial government members, we shared our stories about what’s working well in our District and our perspectives on the significant challenges we face. As Trustees, we always love to hear the stories and experiences of our parents and community partners. What are your hopes and dreams for your family and our work to support student success? We’re here to listen!
Let’s keep the conversation going…