2001, 2016

Bessie Nichols School Council Meeting, January 19, 2016

20, Jan, 2016|Comments Off

Thanks to the Council and Principal Allen for permission to attend the Council meeting.  I remarked to the Council they are an outstanding example of the “Public” in public education.  The parents provided input in a respectful and collaborative manner in a discussion about the value of and supports for parents that wish to encourage their children to develop regular study habits.  Ms. Woo also presented the school’s plan for a school wide focus on improving literacy through in school and parental support including a home reading program and Parent Paired Reading.  I also appreciated the update on the Council efforts to engage the City of Edmonton in continued initiatives to improve pedestrian safety in the traffic zones near the school.  Earlier in the day at the EPSB School Board meeting, I asked the District to follow up with the City on our March 26, 2015 letter to Mayor Iveson in which the school Board requested the City put more resources towards awareness and enforcement in the traffic zones.

2001, 2016

Rio Terrace School Council, January 18, 2016

20, Jan, 2016|Comments Off

Thanks to the Council and Principal Polowy for allowing me to attend Council meeting.  I appreciated the update on the technology plan funding, the discussion on parental supports for the Leader in Me program, and the response to the Truth and Reconciliation report. I especially enjoyed the presentation from the OWL (Outrageously Wild Leaders) who sought Council’s endorsement for a proposed field trip to build leadership capacity in the students.  The OWL students undertook the research, communicated directly with the vendors, and developed the budget and presentation.  Through various fundraising initiatives, OWL is able to self-finance the proposed trip.  Outrageously well done!

1201, 2016

Callingwood School Council, January 11, 2016

12, Jan, 2016|Comments Off

Thanks to Council and Principal McKeown for permitting me to attend tonight’s meeting.  I was interested in hearing about the new reading intervention software, traffic safety concerns around the school, and especially, the Bucket Filling initiative (in which students are recognized for acts of kindness).  Well done!

212, 2015

Talmud Torah School Advisory Council Meeting December 1, 2015

2, Dec, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Rebecca, the rest of Council, and Principal Boyle for the opportunity to participate in tonight’s Council meeting.

I appreciated the opportunity to learn the school’s work on Literacy, including teacher professional development in Literacy Foundations and Literary Coaching; Leveled Literacy and Middle Years Literacy; Guided Reading; and supports for English Language Learners.  It is important to note the school is working to obtain Leveled Literacy materials in Hebrew.

Principal Boyle also reported on interesting findings on adolescent brain development and implications for teacher and parental support.  Apparently adolescence may start as early as 10 years old and stretch into the mid-twenties. Changes to the adolescent brain starts with the limbic portion (emotion and learning) and changes come later to the frontal cortex (decision-making and self-control).  Hence teachers and parents can help in providing regular reminders and interventions to help hardwire the development towards the decision-making portion.

I appreciate the opportunity to gain the Council member perspectives on District decision-making for international travel during times of heightened security concerns. I was able to share your perspectives with Superintendent Robertson.

2511, 2015

Patricia Heights School Council Meeting November 24, 2015

25, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Co-Chairs Sarah and Joyce, the rest of Council, and Principal Kope for the opportunity to attend the Council meeting (and the popcorn for dinner!).  Ms. Desjarlais’ technology presentation was interesting.  I appreciated the various perspectives on the strengths and challenges of potentially using SchoolZone as a communication vehicle between parents and Trustees/ the Board.

2511, 2015

Highlights of the November 24, 2015 Board Meeting

25, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

3 items to highlight:

First, Trustees reviewed the District results and approved the plan for the next 3 years.

This year, our Accountability Pillar results have improved, with all measure category evaluations at good or excellent. In fact, out of Alberta Education’s 44 measures, we’re higher than the provincial average for 32 measures.

District-wide, academic success was positive (pages 26-31) and the 3 year plan (pages 37-38) is focused on improving teacher practice and student performance for literacy and numeracy skills.

Staff, students, and parents highly rated our schools as welcoming, inclusive, and safe (page 52). The District plans to build upon initiatives that promote and encourage student leadership, continue to develop its capacity around mental health needs, and to advance its efforts in creating safe school environments where bullying behaviour is reduced or eliminated. It is the District’s desire to strive towards school communities where all students, staff, parents, and community members feel welcomed, safe, and respected every day (page 54).

From the District Survey, 96.6 per cent of parents indicated that they were satisfied with the opportunities they have to communicate with their child’s teacher; 88.7 per cent of parents reported satisfaction with the manner in which student progress is reported; and 82.9 per cent of parents indicated that the information they receive from the school tells them what they need to know in order for them to help their child be successful in school (page 72).

The District Feedback Survey asked parents what additional information they would need in order to know if their child is being successful in school, the top three responses provided by parents were: improved/more regular communication and feedback; specific/personalized/transparent information regarding their child’s achievement; and indicators of their child’s success other than grades. This information provides the District with feedback for our 2015-2018 plan in support of a strong partnership between home and school (page 73, 74).

Second, with funding uncertainty under the last budget of the previous provincial government, prudent spending allows the District to add to reserves which can now be reinvested to meet long term needs.

The District believes that having reserve funds is a sound financial practice and helps to shield schools and students from unpredictable provincial funding and/or unforeseen events that could otherwise financially impact the District in any given year.

A District Sustainability Fund was approved to stabilize funding and service during times of financial uncertainty, as well as provide resources to address high-priority planned and emergent district-wide issues and opportunities. The following resources be established within the Sustainability Fund:

a. School Equity Fund: The Fund directs resources to schools and groups of schools in greatest need.

b. Price Stabilization: These resources combine the surplus funds from Insurance and Energy Management. These resources are intended to mitigate fluctuations in price/volume.

c. Transportation: The transportation surplus is restricted and is to be used exclusively to stabilize transportation fees.

d. School Building Equity: These resources are to be used for emergent needs in district schools that are not covered under maintenance funding or IMR. Examples include a rotational program to clean ducts and improve overall air quality in schools, and installation of security systems.

e. Growth Accommodation/Programming: These resources will be used to offset welcoming school costs, including specialized rooms, lifts, elevators, ramps, reconfiguration of class spaces, etc. In addition, it is anticipated multidisciplinary teams will be required to respond to the emerging situation of Syrian refugee arrivals in Edmonton, as well as supporting our already high immigrant and refugee populations.

f. Energy Conservation Fund: Energy efficiency improvement projects such as lighting, controls, etc. that will improve on overall efficiency, reduce negative impacts on the environment and promote longer term future cost savings (reduced utilities).

g. Property Management Capital: These resources will be used for lifecycle needs on our closed school buildings and central services (Distribution Centre, Print Services, etc.). This fund will cover major costs such as boilers and roof repairs that cannot be paid with IMR.

h. Enterprise Systems: These resources will be used for the purchase, installation, and upgrade of key enterprise systems, e.g., PeopleSoft HR, PowerSchool, Archibus, Intranet, etc.

Third, the Fall update to the 2015-2016 budget continues to focus funds on District priorities. With the restoration of Provincial funding for enrolment growth along with drawing down previous years reserves, 92 teachers have been added to District schools (see Attachment 6, page 18 of the attached report).

2411, 2015

S Bruce Smith School Council Meeting November 23, 2015

24, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Co-Chairs Gaylene and Rick, the rest of Council, and Principal Watson for the opportunity to attend the Council meeting. Bravo to all the Council for braving the wintry weather to attend!

I was pleased to learn of the involvement of Council and representatives from other school partners in the selection process for new Assistant Principal Prato – that’s generative governance in practice!  I was also very impressed with the Council’s development of a workplan calendar – a best practice that could benefit all school Councils.  Finally congratulations to the STRIVE team and the whole school for exceeding your food and funding targets for donations to the Edmonton Food Bank through We Scare Hunger.

I appreciate the support of Council to explore a Trustee / Board portal on SchoolZone, provided the communications are relevant.  It was interesting to learn that a central communication can sometimes reduce the workload for school staff performing the task on behalf of the District.

1811, 2015

Grade 6 Callingwood School democracy assignment

18, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Jacob, Omar, Cody, Shaquille, Eric, Redan, Ja’Leeine, and Vivian for your questions about trustee roles and representation in your study of democracy.  These Grade 6 Callingwood students asked me about who I represent, how I was chosen, how do I communicate with constituents, my roles, and who do I work with.  I was also asked how difficult is it to make a decision and still keep everyone satisfied, is it hard being a trustee, am I busy, and do I like being a trustee!  All great questions and my answers were as follows:

1. I am the representative for the public school electors for Ward E. Edmonton is divided into 9 wards, for a total of 9 trustees.  Ward E is in the west end. There are 2 public school systems in Edmonton, one for people who support the Catholic religion school system, and one for everyone else – the public system.  In the 2013 election, there were about 60,000 public electors for Ward E, of which about 10,000 cast a vote for the trustee election.  Electors are people over 18 years of age, that are registered by the City of Edmonton as being eligible to vote in the election.
2. I was chosen through an election. In order to be eligible as a candidate to be elected, I had to belong to the group of the public school electors, and I had to be nominated by 50 of them. This means 50 people had to sign my nomination paper for me to be eligible. The election takes place once every 4 years, by secret ballot (so that the voters aren’t bullied into voting for a specific candidate).  This past year, we also supported election of a student trustee to represent students, and we are changing that approach to one that involves more student input than a single student representative can provide.
3. Trustees try and communicate with the people they represent through a variety of means.  I try and go to school council meetings at each school in my ward.  There are also special meetings with parents and community members on specific issues, such as where to locate new schools. I publish a blog on my own website as well through Twitter and Facebook.  I write articles in community newsletters and I attend community events.
4. School trustees do a number of things:
- we hire and work with the Superintendent
- we work with all the other groups to set priorities for the school district and review results by each school in support of those priorities.
- we engage in communication with students, parents, staff, and community to understand community needs to make sure the priorities and plans respond to those needs
- we develop policies to ensure that actions of staff and students support learning, and student and staff well-being
- we approve the budget, that is how money is allocated to fund schools and other educational supports developed by the District to achieve the priorities
- we advocate with other levels of government to ensure their policies and funds they provide are adequate to meet the needs of our students and families we serve
5. Trustees work with everyone who cares about public education!  First, they work together as a 9 person Board.  They also work with the Superintendent of Schools, and all the staff of the Edmonton Public Schools.  The Superintendent is sort of like the principal of principals, all 7,000 staff report to the Superintendent. Trustees also work with parents and parent councils, other levels of government like the City of Edmonton and the provincial government, and community organizations like the YMCA.
6. Governing means choosing between different choices, so not everyone is satisfied with one choice over another.  What trustees try to do is: make sure everyone’s opinion is heard and considered, that people know what we did with their input (what we supported and why, and what we didn’t support and why), and what steps we have taken or may be able to take to help them adjust to a decision they didn’t agree with.
I am accountable to the electors, that means that if they don’t think I did a very good job, they can elect a different trustee at the next election. In between elections, the Board of 9 trustees reports each year to the Minister of Education and to the public (and our electors) on how well the school system is doing. These reports include student achievement results, how safe and caring our schools are viewed by students, parents, school staff, and community members. If the Board of 9 can’t work together, the Minister of Education has the authority to replace the Board with a non-elected Trustee until an election is called, but this has never happened in Edmonton.
7. Just like a student, being a trustee is not hard if you are curious, willing to learn, and committed to the preparation and effort to do a good job. I tell my electors that any one of them could do the job of a trustee, if they commit to these attitudes.

8. Just as students like you organize to accomplish a lot, trustees can get a lot done by being organized.  I have a full time job in addition to being a trustee, so I have to be organized to be effective.

9. I do like my role. Students including you and your friends are the future of Edmonton and it makes me feel good helping support you in creating a better future.
I hope the students share their final reports with me!
1811, 2015

Bessie Nichols School Council, November 17, 2015

18, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Co-Chairs Shelley and Selby, the rest of Council, Principal Allen and Assistant Principals Simmons and Hall for the opportunity to participate in tonight’s Council meeting. I was delighted with the very positive comments from Council for newly arrived Principal Allen, and was able to witness his engagement in seeking parental views about traffic safety issues, congestion due to the siting of portables, tracking of mud, student led conferences and rules around Halloween imagery. I am interested in learning about the paired reading program. I was pleased to hear the School’s goals for 2015-2016.

Once again, I appreciated parental and staff feedback about the possible use of SchoolZone for trustee/ Board communication with parents.  There have been common themes raised in the various council meetings:

– frequency should be determined by need

– don’t undermine staff efforts to economize the number of notifications

1811, 2015

Laperle School Council, November 16, 2015

18, Nov, 2015|Comments Off

Thanks to Chair Todd, the rest of Council and Principal Bayko for letting me join the Council meeting. I learned a lot about targeting to specific ages the digital reading resources Fast Forward and Reading Assistant, and the impact of the Earth Rangers visit to raise awareness of endangered species.  I also appreciated parental feedback on the possible use of SchoolZone for trustee / Board and parent communication. Again, sparing use of the tool will be most effective.  I also learned that staff resources already strive to incorporate parental input to improve SchoolZone.