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The Board Connection

June 30, 2015

Ending the year on a high note

On June 23, at our final board meeting of the year, our Board was proud to approve the District’s $1.08 billion budget for the 2015-2016 school year. This budget will mean more teaching and support staff positions in schools to help us meet the needs of the increasing numbers of students we have in our District. It will also restore funding for inclusive education at $61 million and for programs that provide supports and resources for students with special needs in our early childhood programs at $38.2 million. To me, this budget is about pumping more money into classrooms to support students and staff and towards the services that will help to lift up our most vulnerable students. In the coming months, we’re eager to work with the new government to ensure we can take some significant steps forward in making predictable, sustainable funding a reality. This funding model will play a critical role in enhancing the work we already do to strengthen teaching and learning in our District. 

New schools and a new school year calendar

Last Tuesday’s board meeting also saw us approve five names for new District schools:

  • Margaret Ann Armour School in Ambleside;
  • Nellie Carlson School in MacTaggart;
  • Ivor Dent School in Rundle Heights;
  • Roberta MacAdams School in Blackmud Creek; and
  • Michael Phair School in Webber Greens.

It’s exciting to think about these schools opening in neighbourhoods across our city in the years ahead and becoming a part of the lives of future generations of students and families. We’re looking forward to seeing them completed over the next two years!

And…one last piece of business…the Board approved a new school year calendar for 2016-2017 as well. It was great to be able to establish this calendar a year in advance. It was important to us to provide our staff, families and community partners with good lead time, so they can plan for the future. By approving this calendar, we also extended the pilot project we’re doing with the ATA for a third year. We’ve received positive feedback on the pilot project so far. Common PD days are helping to build a culture of collaboration District-wide, and they’re also offering greater convenience for families, too. Parents have told us they’re finding it easier to plan for childcare and transportation because their kids are off on the same days. We’re looking forward to seeing how this pilot project will help to enrich PD for our staff and student success in the months and years to come.

Putting it all in perspective

Recently, I had the chance to drop into Parkallen School to surprise some amazing teachers and educational assistants who work in the Opportunity program there. A group of parents organized a small gathering to thank them for going above and beyond to support their kids over the last few years. The passion these staff members had for their work really shined through. It was humbling to be a part of this morning celebration for a few reasons.

It was a reminder that every single student we have in our District is unique and that we have to challenge, motivate and encourage them to find success in their own way. It also reinforced just how fantastic our staff really is. Day in and day out, they work hard to make a difference in the lives of our students. Our District really is an amazing place, filled with people who are all focused on supporting student success. We have administrative assistants and custodians who know students by name – always ready and willing to lend a helping hand with a smile. Teachers, EAs, staff in our central departments, incredible parents and community partners like you…every single one us plays a role in ensuring students reach their potential. Every effort we make to help kids build on their strengths and overcome their challenges brings our Vision, Mission and Priorities to life. All of this work goes towards supporting a larger cause: To help the learners of today become the leaders of tomorrow.

As we end our school year and look towards the summer, I want to thank our staff for living our cornerstone values of equity, collaboration, integrity and accountability. Thank you also to all of our students for their enthusiasm and energy for learning. And of course, a big thank you to our parent and community members for their tireless partnership in support of public education.

Speaking of which…it’s not too early to start thinking about the Ward G by-election! If you’re passionate about helping kids experience success and making a difference in our communities, consider running for the role of Trustee. The by-election is Monday, September 28. Read more about this opportunity.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun summer break with friends and family. See you back here in September!

It was great to meet some of the staff members who support the Opportunity program at Parkallen School! Here I am with (from left to right) educational assistants Kim Ropson and Tracy Eleniak and teachers Jennifer Agrell-Smith and Cathie Heslinga; Assistant Superintendent Kathy Muhlethaler also joined us.