Decisions hinge on budget cuts

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Trustees learned at their Feb. 6 regular meeting that administration had still received no word from the provincial government as to funding for the 2020/21 school year.

Tow Truck Sale

A motion was unanimously passed to sell the district tow truck as the cost of repairs is more than the truck is worth.

A replacement tow truck will not be purchased. A local company, Fastimes Towing, has the capability to tow buses which weren’t the case when the tow truck was originally purchased.

Parent involvement

Superintendent Barron provided survey information showing over time there has been a small, but a continuing drop in parents feeling involved and satisfied with their connection to Clearview schools.

Some school boards around Edmonton are using the on-line tool, Thoughtexchange, and have reported increased parent engagement in decisions concerning their children’s education.

Generally, school administrators were lukewarm to another platform.

Trustee Erica Grice said the administrators at Gus Wetter were happy with the platforms they already use.

With an initial cost of $12,000 for a six-month trial, Trustee Ken Checkel suggested the board hold off until after the provincial budget was known.

“The UCP seems to be pretty determined in cost-cutting,” said Checkel. “I wouldn’t want that [the budget] consultation over a computer screen, it should be face-to-face.”

No motion was made to purchase Thoughtexchange.

Annual Capital Plan

Every year, school boards submit a capital plan.

Modulars at Gus Wetter remain Clearview’s number one priority and the modernization of Wm E. Hay middle school is the second priority.

When asked about Clearview’s chances of getting any capital funding this year, Associate Superintendent Neale said, “There are just school districts that have a lot more needs than us. Thanks to our maintenance team”, said Neale, “our facilities show very well, which is good news and bad news.”

Hutterite Colony leaders meeting

Superintendent Barron and Trustees Hayden, Neitz and Checkel met with the Hutterite leadership.

They reported it was a very positive and constructive meeting clarifying responsibilities and addressing concerns.

In 2018/2019 Clearview invoiced the 10 Hutterite schools $211,263, the difference between the per-student provincial base grant and the educational services provided by Clearview.

Due to the number of schools and small enrollment, there is always a shortfall made up by the colonies.

Colonies are responsible for the school buildings.

Clearview provides educational resources, including teachers, curriculum materials, furniture, equipment and classroom improvements.

In a later interview, Associate Superintendent Neale said, “This financial structure benefits everyone. It allows the colonies to teach their students with respect for their cultural preferences and yet still provides their children with top-notch education without impacting any resources in Clearview for other students.”

Performing Arts request

A delegation, led by Wendy Staal and representing the Wm E Hay Fundraising Society made a presentation to the board seeking a donation to help upgrade lighting and microphones at the Performing Arts Centre (PAC).

To date, $28,418.25 has been raised which includes $9,000 from the Town of Stettler and $3,500 from the County of Stettler.

With the money raised, some LED lights have been ordered and $9,000 will be spent on microphones.

Approximately $30,000 is still required.

Trustees were impressed with the fundraising efforts of the group to date and their commitment to this valuable community centre.

Most external users of PAC are not-for-profit community groups and the school uses it for drama classes and musical concerts.

The PAC started out as a community project but ownership of the building was later turned over to Clearview Schools.

Last year, there was a $40,000 deficit in the upkeep and maintenance of the building.

“We don’t know our budget and can’t make any decisions until we get our budget allocation”, said Trustee Smyth, “that is the only money we get to operate our schools.”

In summary, Chair Greg Hayden thanked the group and assured the delegation that the Board was not giving a definite no.

However, with the expectation of a $1.5 million reduction in government funding, the Fundraising Society would have to look to Clearview’s expenditures on building maintenance and operational costs as our donation at this time.

 

B.Schimke

ECA Review

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