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The Board Connection

January 28, 2016

Welcome back from the winter break! I hope you all had a chance to relax, and maybe take in a school concert. By now, that probably seems like a distant memory. School has been back in session for weeks now, and we’ve reached the halfway point of the school year. With half the school year behind us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the year so far and look forward to the future.

Reflecting on the fall

Looking back on the first half of the school year, I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish. As I mentioned in my last post, the District published its Annual Education Results Review (AERR) in the latter half of 2015 and it contains a lot of positive news. I’m proud of our District’s success in improving our high school graduation rate and the many other successes reported in the AERR.

Looking ahead

Thinking ahead to the rest of the year, I'm encouraged by our continuing work on literacy and numeracy. And I’m proud of our continuing leadership in second language education—our District recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Foundation International, giving us access to new resources for our Arabic Bilingual program and the opportunity to share our expertise with other school boards. This is just one example of the many community partnerships, both local and international, that our District engages in to provide our students with the best possible educational experience.

Another part of making sure our students have a great experience at school is making sure they have space to learn. That’s why we’re opening three new schools in 2016. Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour, Nellie Carlson and Roberta MacAdams schools will be accepting new students for the 2016-17 school year. I’m very excited about these news schools, which will help relieve enrolment pressure in areas seeing the biggest increase in school-aged children.

Enrolment pressure is currently one of our most urgent concerns—our students in growing neighbourhoods need new schools. We’ve made infrastructure a priority in our Strategic Plan - old and continue to outline our top requests in our Three-Year Capital Plan. We look to the Province for leadership on building new schools, and supporting our work to create high quality learning spaces for students.

We’ll also begin registering the first group of Syrian newcomers to our schools this month. We’re well prepared to welcome these students to our schools. While families arriving from Syria may be coming under different circumstances than other newcomers, this is nothing new for our District. We’ve been welcoming students from immigrant and refugee families for decades and are well equipped to give them the resources they need to succeed—just as we’d do for any of our students.

Open houses and pre-enrolment

For students and their families, it’s almost time to start looking ahead to the next school year. Whether your child will be entering Kindergarten, moving to a new school or graduating from high school, we’re here to help. Many of our schools will be hosting open houses in February and March, inviting families to learn about their programming options and school culture. Attending open houses is a great way to help you decide which school will best meet your child’s educational needs.

After choosing a school, you’ll need to register your child (if they’re new to the District) or pre-enrol them (if they’re continuing with Edmonton Public Schools). You’ll be able to pre-enrol your child in SchoolZone starting at 9 a.m. on March 14. If you don’t have Internet access or are otherwise unable to pre-enrol in SchoolZone, talk to your child’s principal.

Finally, I want to wish our Grade 12 students luck on their diploma exams. By the time you read this, most of them will have just finished their first round of exams, bringing them that much closer to graduation. This is an exciting time for our most senior students, as they think about their future—looking into career options or applying for post-secondary institutions. Teachers and other high school staff can help your child make informed choices about their life after high school.

Whatever your resolutions might be, and wherever your children are in their educational journey, I know our staff are working hard to make sure the rest of the school year will be rewarding for our students and their families.