Thanks to Aubrey, Rob & Michelle, and the rest of the League Executive for the warm welcome at the BBQ. Residents chatted with me about the education budget, approaches to math education, concerns about digital devices distracting students, and community members assisting teachers in the classroom. I appreciated learning their insights!
Thanks to Catherine and the rest of Council for the invite to attend this year’s festival. The student entertainers were excellent, the crowd appreciative, and the rain held off nearly to the end! Thanks so much to Principal Langenhahn for her passion in adding to Rio’s success and congratulations on your new challenges at Meadowlark School – we’ll miss you! Welcome to incoming Principal Polowy – it was great to meet your family and share your excitement about Rio.
Thanks to Principal Yeoman for the invite to attend the Sport in a Box Day. Thorncliffe School has been selected by the United Nations of Canada Association and FIFA Football for Hope to host a Sport in a Box field afternoon. The event focused on active and healthy living as well as the value of diversity and inclusion through sport. It also celebrated the FIFA Woman’s World Cup that is being hosted here in Edmonton. Representatives from the Alberta Human Rights Commission, FC Edmonton, and the United Nations of Canada Association were in attendance. We enjoyed an Aboriginal Hip Hop performer, a Pow Wow dancer, and a presentation from former national soccer team player Liz Smith.
Thanks to Melaine, Jody, the rest of Council, and Principal Kroeker for the invite to attend. Huge attendance again this year, and fantastic weather! Great event.
The Board reviewed the proposed budget for 2015-2016. The Board faces a number of challenges with the resources the Province has made available:
• EPSB is projecting enrolment growth of 3 per cent (more than 2,700 students) for 2015-
2016. With no funding for enrolment growth, EPSB is estimating the cost of educating
these additional students at $15.3 million.
• The base instruction grant rates have been segregated into two components, teacher
compensation and non-teacher compensation. The portion related to teacher compensation
has been increased by 2 per cent whereas the non-teacher compensation component has
been decreased by 3.1 per cent.
• Following three years of a salary freeze, the teacher’s collective agreement for 2015-2016
includes a 2 per cent increase in teacher compensation costs, and a 1 per cent lump sum
payment to teachers. The estimated cost to the District is approximately $12.5 million.
• Funding for children with severe disabilities/delays (Program Unit Funding) will be based
on the current year budget less 3.1 per cent and will not be adjusted for any increase related
to enrolment growth. The District is currently calculating the financial impact of this.
• The English as a Second Language, Equity of Opportunity, First Nations, Metis and Inuit
Education, Outreach Programs, Plant Operations and Maintenance, and Socio-Economic
Status grants have all been reduced by 3.1 per cent. The Inclusive Education and
Transportation grants have been reduced by 1.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. The
total impact of these reductions to the District is estimated to be a reduction of $4.8 million
in funding compared to the current year.
• As mandated by the Province, EPSB must end the current year with an accumulated surplus
from operations of $35.2 million. EPSB will only be able to access these funds during the
2015-2016 school year with Ministerial approval. Approval will only be granted if the
request supports strategies to transition away from the future use of reserves in order to
operate within the annual Provincial budget allocation by 2016-2017.
Therefore, the net funding impact, including projected increases in student enrolment of 3 per
cent, means the District will provide education services to just over 92,000 students with
reduced funding dollars and restrictions related to staffing options (unable to reduce front line
certificated FTE’s) and restrictions around its ability to access surplus funds (created by being
fiscally responsible over the prior years).
These restrictions may mean increased class sizes, reduced numbers of educational assistants and other non-teaching staff including specialized supports, greater pressures on teachers, and less opportunity for innovation through initiatives such as Career Pathways. These outcomes are the opposite of the priorities that the District heard from the recent survey that more than 3000 parents responded to. Along with the advocacy of the Board, I ask that parents and community members make their concerns known to all candidates for the Provincial election.
The Board also received first reading of a proposed new policy on stakeholder relations. Given the requirements of the new Education Act, the vision of Inspiring Education to strengthen student success through community partnerships, and the challenge of limited resources, this policy needs to carefully foster stakeholder relations. Please let me know your feedback on the proposed policy.
Thanks to Shelley, Rebecca, the rest of Council and Principal Martyn for the invite to participate. I was able to provide an update, as follows:
1. Construction update
The 7-9 Lewis Farms – construction scheduled to start May 1
Granville – thanks to advocacy, now a full build (900 students) rather than starter school. Occupancy target Dec 31, 2016
Capital plan reflects community input – will investigate new designs with smaller footprint (eg. that could fit the Glastonbury site if required); will determine over the next year the need for a new west end high school
2. Traffic – Board seeking to influence City decisions for the funds raised through photo radar to be used for school traffic concerns
3. Budget – while final budget will be post election, Board committed to focusing resources to support kids in classrooms
4. Strategic plan – District focused on enhancing collection and analysis of data, including parent feedback, to improve practice to support student success
Thanks to President Jason and the rest of the League for the invitation to Edmonton Public Schools to present an update on the new Grange School approved for Granville neighborhood.
I want to commend the League Executive and Board for your successful advocacy to ensure the Grange school is fully built right away to accommodate 900 students, rather than as a 250 student “starter school” originally promised by the Provincial Government. Together with MLA Matt Jeneroux, the Glastonbury Community League has been very effective at advocating for the schools so needed by the community. Your neighbors are very fortunate to have you dedicated volunteers!
Congratulations to all Edwin Parr nominees! Each year, principals are invited to nominate first year teachers for the Edwin Parr Teacher Award which is sponsored by the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA). One nominee is selected to represent the District at the zone level.
Nine first year teachers were nominated by their principals for the 2015 ASBA Edwin Parr
Teacher Award. A committee of district leadership staff met to review the nominations relative to the selection criteria established by ASBA. Results from the committee’s assessment, as well as points awarded based on scholastic achievement and student teaching evaluations were compiled. Based on the selection criteria, six semi-finalists were selected:
Cassandra Backs, Eastglen School
Karly Hildebrandt, Michael Strembitsky School (District nominee)
Kristen Kicia, Sifton School
Alexandria Reeson, Windsor Park School
Kathleen Richey, Westglen School
Jason Wass, John D. Bracco School
Thanks to all constituents that provided comments on the Motion re Traffic Safety Initiatives Around Schools and School Zones.
The Board passed an amendment to the original motion: “That the Edmonton Public School Board write a letter to the Mayor and City Council advocating for a portion of the revenue collected from Photo Radar be directed to traffic safety initiatives around schools and school zones”
“That the Edmonton Public School Board write a letter to the Mayor and City Council advocating for traffic safety initiatives around schools and school zones and for increased education and enforcement” because the majority of the Board felt that EPSB should focus on outcomes rather than specific measures.
Trustees also received a report on progress with numeracy and mathematics. Edmonton Public results for the Provincial Achievement Tests acceptable level exceed those for the Province as a whole. The introduction of the MIPI (Math Intervention / Programming Instrument) is part of the District’s plan for assessment and improvement in student performance in numeracy and mathematics. Approximately 40% of students require interventions based on their MIPI results, providing strong impetus to further action and support.
In response to a report on partnering with Edmonton Public Library, I urged that EPSB seek volunteers for schools through the library network.
The Board approved a recommendation to provide feedback to our representatives to the Alberta School Boards Association to end membership in the Canadian and National (US) School Board Associations. EPSB representatives have been applying the values of transparency, accountability, and integrity that we operate our own District and have sought to confirm value for money in ASBA holding these memberships. EPSB and other Boards can participate in the professional development sessions without ASBA holding membership. We strive to maximize the use of public funds in the classroom at all times. Current tight fiscal circumstances provide even greater urgency to doing so.
An additional item dealt with trying to provide greater clarity when to use the Board’s in camera (confidential meeting) powers, known as Caucus Committee. When dealing with personnel, legal, or real estate transactions, there is a need for confidentiality. Currently all Board decisions are made a t Public Board meetings. There are times when the District needs to move ahead on a more timely basis, so the Board is trying to amend our process to respect transparency and yet meet the needs to move forward. The Board decided today to refer the matter to our legal counsel for further clarity.
Trustee Chubb brought forward a motion that EPSB advocate with Alberta Education to ensure the teaching of consent as part of the program of studies in Human Sexuality. Currently, it appears that this outcome is not formally included, even though the attached report indicates the clear definition in the Criminal Code of Canada. The current Provincial redesign of curriculum provides an opportunity to add this important learning outcome.
Thanks to Aubrey, Rob and Michelle, and the rest of the League for the kind invite. Enjoyed sharing stories with fellow fathers Aubrey and David Xiao, our PC MLA for McClung Constituency, and catching up with Rob about the growth at Edmonton International airport.