School rebuilds still on track

With the new normal of video technology, Prairie Land Public School Division trustees and administration were able to meet with some in-person and teleconference calls to participate.

To start the meeting off on Tues. April 28, an update on the two upcoming school rebuilds took centre stage.

Associate superintendent Steve Neilsen anticipates Delia School will be completed one year before Morrin School

Six companies have been called notifying them they have been selected as the top choices for the Delia build so now they will have two more weeks to return a final bid.

Neilsen noted that the market is getting much more competitive so it means a better deal for the division in the end as prices are driven down even more.

As for Morrin’s school rebuild, many were interested and participating as best they could.

On Tues. April 14, the Friends of Morrin School held a meeting with 30 parents joining virtually.

They came up with three options and five main priorities they wish to see in this new school.

Bus yard service

Prairie Land looked at how they would be doing bus routes in the future and whether or not drivers will enter yards to pick up and drop off students in terms of safety and the best options for these passengers.

They currently have it set up to make sure students are dropped off if their house is up first rather than driving past to go to other homes before circling back.

“It’s nice to have that flexibility between the family and the transportation department,” said Superintendent Cam McKeage.

A section of the policy they reviewed highlighted that an agreement between the board and parent, if there is a door stop, would be put in place.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” said Trustee Scott MacPherson

McKeage replied “It’s more of a handshake. That’s how we’ve done it in the past but if you want a policy or something in writing…”

“No, as long as there has never been a problem with it I don’t think so,” said MacPherson.

McKeage added that at one time Prairie Land was ‘very strict’ regarding the law and “It’s been opened up quite a bit since then. And you know the families I think appreciate that freedom a lot more.”

“We have to do what is right for the situation itself.”

Trustee Marsha Tkach mentioned how it might be smart to have parents give input on bus routes by giving them a look at the potential routes for the year ahead of time to see how efficient they are.

“It’s a challenge I know but that is something my community asked for,” said Tkach.

McKeage mentioned that Prairie Land is generally ‘very open’ to parent suggestions and “in some situations, reached out and asked the parents for their input to change routes.”

Neilsen added that they sometimes have the parents and drivers come to the office to sit down and look at the routes or go to school council meetings.

“Not everyone will always be happy for sure but we’ve always been open to input and our drivers are really good too. They know the routes the best, they know what’s the most efficient and they let us know [if it works],” said Neilsen.

There are moments, however, when they have had to say no but reiterated they are generally open to new ideas.

“We always plan our routes by minimizing the amount of bums in the seats and that’s how we do it as a collective,” he said.

Graduations bumped

While in discussion on various issues or changes, it was noted that graduations across the division have been bumped back by a few months.

Delia is expected to hold theirs August 1 potentially while J.C.Charyk would follow next a couple of weekends later on Aug. 15.
Morrin will follow Hanna by hosting theirs on Sat. Aug. 22

Thoughts of acknowledging all the schools in Prairie Land was brought up but ideas to do so are still in the works.

“It’s very important to small town communities,” said McKeage.

Aside from graduation, McKeage shared that students, parents and teachers were handling the situation as best they can and have conducted some surveys on how things are going so far.

He found that some students are flourishing with this new online format while others struggle to stay focused or because of other things.

Concerns of families with multiple children balancing schedules has been a recurring issue but they also noted that not many laptops and internet hubs had been given out as most families seem to have something in place already.

“On a whole, I would say we are doing well,” he said.

With the lack of school trips, presentations, assemblies and other gatherings that would draw students away from their work, the board of trustees along with administration have found the division might be a month ahead of schedule in terms of learning and finishing the curriculum.

They will have the final call, aside from the provincial government whether to continue all the way to June 30 or finish early.

A survey will be sent out in May to gauge how parents feel about this idea.

MLA meeting proves successful

On April 7, the Prairie Land board and Nate Horner sat down for a meeting.

The bi-annual meetings held in the spring and fall tend to focus on what’s happening in the division as well as getting a perspective from the legislature or simply anything they need to follow up on.

“I think he has a pretty good handle of where we are and what our concerns are. I think we have a good relationship. He hears from everybody [and is] really good about communicating with everybody,” said chair Holli Smith.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.