Trustees of the Clearview School District discussed how to continue to providing the best possible educational opportunities for all students at their Board meeting on September 18, 2013.
It was agreed that community consultation and engagement is increasingly important.
“We learned at the public meetings, our schools and public want to know what we are thinking and what are we going to do,” said Trustee Cheri Neitz.
Effective styles of communication were also discussed. It was agreed the Board had to do a better job communicating with their stakeholders. Associate Superintendent, Peter Neale spoke about using different forms and levels of communication – including surveys, conversations online, public meetings and focus groups to reach more people.
School programming will continue to be an important focus area as budgets tighten and student populations fall. Specific mention was given to the pilot project at the Stettler Elementary/Middle schools, shared programming between schools and levels of programming in small schools.
Chairman Ken Checkel suggested teacher excellence should also be the Board’s focus.
“How do we hire, mentor, train, support and develop teachers to ensure that we have as much teacher excellence as we possibly can?” Checkel asked.
“If we want the best teachers in front of our students, we’ve got to find a way to implement progressive discipline and progressive assistance in our schools,” said Yvette Cassidy, “If teachers are not up to standard, the Board needs to support our principals to ensure proper documentation is done at all times.”
Trustees Peter Simons and Patty Dittrick continued to advocate for a user-friendly budget process and presentation.
“People don’t know how School Boards are funded,” said Cassidy, “it’s a complicated process that needs to be broken down so people will understand.”
Associate Superintendent Peter Neale will be looking to include more stakeholders in the budget process that starts in January. There will be more opportunities for the public to better understand how school boards are funded, how the money is allocated between schools, what site-based budgeting means and a follow-up survey on effectiveness of the process.
Karen Holloway spoke in favour of including health and wellness of students and staff as one of the Board’s goals.
“Many parents do not choose health and wellness for themselves or their children,” said Holloway.
“Research says that health and wellness, put together with teacher excellence, is one thing that actually increases test scores”.
It was discussed that promoting health and wellness among school employees helps retain staff and when teachers choose to care for their wellness it influences students positively.
“We’re here to educate kids, how much are we supposed to be responsible for,” asked Cassidy, “We’re in the business of educating, and Alberta Health is in the business of health! The more we do for parents, the less they do for themselves.”
Support staff contract
In a September 4, 2013 press release, Clearview Public Schools and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced an agreement had been finalized for teaching assistants, custodians, secretaries, bus drivers and maintenance workers.
It includes increases in family illness leaves, the standardization of wages, the addition of a $300 per year health spending account and added clarity for statutory holidays. Bus drivers will now receive sick leave benefits and accidental death and dismemberment benefits, with all other staffing groups previously receiving these benefits.
The focus of the agreement was to achieve fairness and equity for all employees and find creative ways to improve benefits without incurring additional costs to school budgets.