Stettler reconfiguration project
“We have no preconceptions about what the recommendations will be from the Stettler School pilot project,” said John Bailey, Superintendent of Schools at the Clearview Board meeting on September 23, 2013.
He and the three Stettler principals Sharon Fischer (Stettler Elementary/Stettler Middle), Roe Desrosiers (Stettler Outreach) and Norbert Baharall (Wm. E. Hay High School) comprise the Stettler School Study Lead Team (SSSLT). They have been tasked to analyze the potential benefits and implications of various pre-Kindergarten to grade 12 configurations and determine which would best meet the future educational needs of students in Stettler and surrounding communities.
Joanne Steinman of the University of Calgary will provide research support by compiling and analyzing data collected.
As part of the Board’s commitment to better communicate with its shareholders, Bailey confirmed updates will be made to the Board and stakeholders each step of the way.
Step 1: Immediate input will be sought from staff and parents from all four Stettler schools. They will be asked four questions: 1) what opportunities do you see from reconfiguration; 2) what are potential barriers; 3) what concerns do you have; and 4) any other comments. The answers to these initial questions will give the committee some key indicators.
Step 2: The Board of Trustees will hold their initial public consultation in October. The public meetings will focus on data gathering (i.e. anecdotal comments, thoughts, opinions). The first public forum is too early to ask for specific direction ideas.
Step 3: With the research data in hand, anticipated in January, the findings and recommendations will be forwarded to staff, parents and the community to seek further feedback. Different forms of communication will be used to garner this feedback, i.e. public forums, electronic responses, written responses, etc.
Step 4: The SSSLT will write a final report, based on the research findings and public, staff and community input, and present it to the Trustees at a public Board meeting in April.
Step 5: The Board of Trustees would make a final decision on the future direction of education delivery in Stettler.
“The SSSLT believes this process honours staff, parents and students, said Bailey.”
Smaller Clearview schools
Although preliminary enrollment numbers for September are essentially as projected last spring, the fact remains that the provincial funding for education and the overall student population in the Clearview catchment area continues to drop. As such, programming for all schools will be under the Board’s review this year.
Items discussed included the potential of saving money and not compromising education by reducing the smallest schools, Botha, Byemoor, Erskine, Big Valley and Donalda, to four-day weeks. Brownfield School moved to a four-day week and it has been well received and effective.
There was discourse surrounding ways to develop cooperative high school programming between Castor and Coronation.
Obtaining data on the delivery of program objectives in single, double and triple-graded classrooms was also discussed.
Experts concluded that the fire-stopping debris falling to the gymnasium floor at the Erskine School is not a health issue. The Board voted unanimously to revisit this item during the budget process as it is a continuing nuisance and eyesore. It is estimated that it will cost $92,000 to correct the problem and retain the wood slate ceiling.
Associate Superintendent, Peter Neale advised that although year-end books are not completely finalized, Administration could be looking at a $90,000 surplus. In response to Trustee Peter Simon’s query as to why so much money was left over, Neale said, “My staff are spending when they need to and not spending when they don’t need to.”
“There are cultures of government agencies that would not have $90,000 left in administration,” said Neale, “but we are not afraid to leave it.” Excess administration dollars are either turned back to the schools or are used to lessen what is asked of them in the next fiscal year.