Facilities Director Kent Spath and the maintenance team “did amazing work to get the school ready”, reported Superintendent Cam McKeage to the board of trustees during the Prairie Land Regional Division’s (PLRD) last regular meeting on Thur., Sept. 1 in reference to the first day of school for the JC Charyk School in Hanna.
McKeage shared his and colleague, Chief Deputy Superintendent Steven Nielsen’s initial stress that the school might not be ready for students after their “walk through” of the construction site only days before the first day of school. However, McKeage was quick to compliment Spath and his team for the hard work they did in cleaning and preparing everything in time.
McKeage also reported that phase two of the modernization has been completed. Demolition for phase three has begun with classrooms being ripped out.
“There will be concerns over the “big” (north) gym bleachers”, said McKeage. The previous capacity was 325 however the new bleachers only have capacity for 146 with the new bleachers having individual seats. That is less than half the previous. Although the gym space is the same there is an added lift and no stage.
In response to the various trustee concerns that were voiced, McKeage mentioned he has met with JC Charyk Principal Mike Kukurudza to discuss how the school can host events for larger crowds despite the lowered seating capacity.
In addition to losing bleacher capacity in the “big” gym, the second gym will also be losing bleacher space.
Furthermore, teaching staff will also need to be more efficient and resourceful when it comes to storing their teaching supplies, McKeage continued. The school will be losing storage space. Each classroom will have a small storage area however staff will no longer be able to sit on resources for years on end.
The entire modernization project is scheduled to be completed on time, said McKeage, in January 2017.
With that in mind the board discussed the move date for Hanna primary school. With the modernization being completed in January, which is not only the middle of the winter it is also the middle of the school year – what is best for the students while also considering the expectation that the demolition is scheduled for sometime after the construction has been completed.
More discussions on this subject are scheduled.
Parking had a few glitches on the first day of school with the construction taking place. The parents drop off is now along 5th Street however, as was to be expected, not everyone was aware of this change which caused some traffic confusion.
Student parking was a subject of discussion amongst board members who were curious about why the green space was not used, but instead students were parking across from Palliser Trail.
Administration explained that the green space posed a challenge for rain or snow conditions and the current location is only half a block from the school.
All residents in the area were notified of the traffic changes for not only their information but for the safety of the students.
LGBTQ policy in the school
Superintendent McKeage sought direction from board members following a positive response from the minister of education regarding the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer) Policy 23, the welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment expectations the school division was required to submit.
Although the board considered releasing the document to the public once again, for their final input, many trustees felt that subject had been asked and answered.
The board will make the policy available to the public in it’s final format as the motion to accept Policy 23 was voted on and carried.
Following a presentation to the board by the Primrose family, trustees discussed implementing a transportation cross-jurisdiction policy.
The Primrose family, who currently reside near the borders of both the PLRD and Clearview School divisions, but still within the PLRD, requested their children (grades one and four) be released from attending a PLRD school and instead by allowed to attend a Clearview school – Big Valley, as it was a better fit for their lifestyle and family business.
The Primrose’s request was approved by the PLRD board for the upcoming school year however that transfer is also dependant on Clearview’s approval of accepting the additional bussing costs.
Upon investigation into the matter, Chief Deputy Superintendent Steven Nielsen learned of, what appears to be a case of “discrimination” by a previous board of trustees by denying the Primrose’s transfer request on two separate occasions.
Apparently a bus drove right past the Primrose residence to pick up another family however the Primroses were refused when they asked to be included on the route for reasons unknown.
Nielsen, although sympathetic to the Primrose situation, encouraged the board of trustees to develop a firm policy on the matter to “be fair to everyone. You either have a border or you don’t”, he said. “Some parents drive their kids to the border.”
Nielsen suggested approaching other jurisdictions for the purpose of discussing a mutually agreed upon buffer zone of approximately three miles.
More discussions on the subject are scheduled for the future.