News Item

Board Highlights (September 2018)

September 17, 2018

logo-vertical (002).jpgNotes from the September 12, 2018 Regular (Public) Meeting of the Board of Education of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division

Quarterly Operating and Financial Report

The Quarterly Finance Report was presented by Marilyn Yurkiw, Manager of Finance.  The report presented was reflective of revenue and expenses received and incurred up to August 31, 2018.  As the year end process is completed to wrap up the fiscal year, both revenue and expense amounts will vary somewhat from the amounts presented.  Year end adjusting entries to recognize amortization expenses, and various payable expenses have not yet been completed.  Areas within the revenue and expense categories which will have variances from the budget amounts were reviewed and discussed.  Yurkiw shared with the Board the dates scheduled for the upcoming year end audits.  A full presentation of the Financial Statements for the year ending August 31, 2018 will be presented to the Board following the audit process.

Monitoring Report on System Goal #1

A monitoring report on the division's system goal #1 – Our students have opportunities to learn and succeed in every school – was introduced by Lynn Little, Director of Education.  Little shared how the division strives to ensure that it is an opportunity that all students do in fact have. She spoke of the learning plan that focuses on overall student achievement but noted that the division also reports at each student level for all of the different outcomes and opportunities.  Her written report provided an overview of the vast Learning Support Team staff of over 200 individuals across the division that is in place to support student needs if supports outside of school based staff are required.  The team consists of counsellors pathologists, psychologists, learning support teachers and educational assistants, among others. As well there are 17 consultants who assist teachers in supporting students on their learning journey.  Little reported that SECPSD's average on-time graduation rate for 2017-2018 was 87% for students who started grade 10 in 2015-2016 and extended graduation rates for students who commenced grade 10 in 2013-2014 was 90.8%.  She also explained that the graduation data does not include students who started in grade 10 with SECPSD then left nor students who started elsewhere and finished with SECPSD, as graduation data coming out from the province this week had not yet been received.  Thus, updated data will be provided to the Board for their strategic planning meeting scheduled for October 3.

In support of the presentation, four staff members from two schools were in attendance and demonstrated student achievement and success in their schools in the east service area.

Visiting from McNaughton High School, Jeff St. Onge (Principal) and Sherrie Meredith (Vice-Principal) focused on the individualized programming offered at the high school to support students in their individual interests and pursuits. The administrators' enthusiasm and passion for the learning success of their students resonated throughout the presentation. St. Onge explained that where they are at now has been in the works for a very long time.  He spoke of how co-teaching is the norm at McNaughton and emphasized the importance of capacity building, having a culture of and a really good grasp of differentiation, as well as teacher skill and flexibility in order to support in any given semester the 20-30 students who carry out independent studies, sometimes with one student being the only student working on a particular project.  "It starts with student interest," he said.  Success was evidenced by the fact that some of the students, under the supervision of the teacher, became sufficiently skilled and confident to share and teach their classmates what they had learned, whether in such courses as communications media, visual art, welding or drafting & computer aided design, to name a few. 

Meredith shared data regarding the complexity and challenges of planning and scheduling for each student involved in the independent projects, from setting up portfolios and independent check-in dates to arranging for evaluations during examinations and ensuring all the project steps are appropriately documented by the students.

The administrators highlighted configurations used for students and classes, including individual courses and units for students.  They emphasized how the teacher provides the knowledge, guidance and oversight for each project undertaken which enables the student to learn desired knowledge and that they in turn lead and help other students to likewise be successful in their chosen interests.  The students take great pleasure in their work and accomplishments.  An example was given in which some students have made minor repairs and improvements to portions of the school - personal "real life" work - which they "guard" with pride and personal satisfaction.  Pairing teachers and students in their interest areas results in successful projects with some students going on to pursue those interests.  For example, seven students took an online flight training course and four became licensed pilots.

The PowerPoint presentation included pictures of staff and video clips of the student projects including "McNaughton's Got Talent" (Meredith's project) event, which involves about 100 students all participating in what they like to do – building, setting up, showcasing, performing – and is attended by between 500 and 600 people.  Much of the event's content comes from the phenomenal independent class projects.  One of the projects Bunny Bits, for example, took three weeks to prepare and consisted of 500 pictures.  St. Onge said, "Not every student is a success story but about 90% of the students we work with are a huge success."  He noted that the goal is to target students' interests.

Nancy Fraser, Principal at Redvers School, along with Devona Putland (Levelled Literacy Intervention Specialist/RtI teacher) reported on a successful spring literacy intervention which was made possible by the mid-year funding adjustment from the Ministry.  The allocated funding allowed additional staff to be put in place to support schools with larger numbers of students who would benefit from increased Tier 2 supports that could not be delivered through their current school's timetable.   Their journey with literacy was shared through pictures, stories, testimonials and video clips.

Fraser emphasized that data drives their decisions and learning.  They collect the AMSweb scores, analyze it to determine reading levels, form the learning groupings and put a plan into action.  Each child's progress is individually graphed throughout their years of learning.  She explained that in grade three students move from learning to read to reading to learn and that teachers try to show students that the more they read the more they grow. The school provides learning opportunities such as through library resources, a home reading program which started with Grade K-3, then K-6 and is now progressing through the entire school, and DEAR where students "drop everything and read" for 15 minutes.  She stated that the targeted literacy intervention was a "great opportunity for Redvers" and expressed appreciation for her "strong team" of educators.

The two presenters reported that supports were provided through a combination of best practice and common sense over the six week instructional period with Putland spending half days between Redvers School and MacLeod Elementary School to focus on literacy areas such as readiness, different learning styles and building an interest in reading, with programming being individualized to meet the schools' needs.  Putland explained that some students have a hard time learning to read, for various reasons -- perhaps because the instruction comes at a time when they are not ready to receive it, or it may be coming at a pace more rapid than they are ready to take in or there may be distractors.

The intervention targeted 22 grade three students at Redvers and a variety of students between grades one and four at MacLeod. Putland described how she was able to engage students through fun learning activities- chants and poems, jokes and riddles, lots of humour, the use of word ladders, graded word lists and high frequency phrases as well as tapping into student interests and their need for information.  She stated that it was a pleasure to focus on the one subject.  "Students came running through the doors with smiles on their faces," ready to learn.  Teachers commented on the reading confidence levels fairly early in the process after hearing students' comments such as, "I'm reading better! Want to hear me read?"

With grade 1 not scoring until winter, their winter to spring results were 17% of students in the red category, 20% in yellow and 63% in green. Grade 2 students improved their Lexile scores by 100%, grade 3 by 82% and grade 4 by 94%.  One student who participated in the intervention improved from 17 words per minute to 50 words per minute. While all students had successes, the grade 1's experienced the most growth. 

Redvers is a K-12 school with 301 students.

The Lord's Prayer

In accordance with The Education Act, 1995 the Board passed a motion in support of requests from the four School Community Councils of Carievale, Gladmar, Queen Elizabeth and MacLeod for recitation of the Lord's Prayer or a moment of reflection during opening or assembly activities.

Board Evaluation

The Board passed a motion acknowledging receipt of the findings and recommendations resulting from five surveys completed by the board members for the 2017-2018 school year.  The evaluations focused on: Board Self-Evaluation, Board Chair Evaluation, Audit Committee Evaluation, Governance and Human Resources Evaluation and a Board Skills Inventory Survey.  The surveys are conducted and results are analyzed by the Board on an annual basis.

Articles by Norm Park

Board Briefs, System Presentation, Enrolments

Upcoming Meetings

October 3/18Board Strategic Planning Meeting
October 10/18Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting
October 10/18Regular (Public) Board Meeting

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

South East Cornerstone Public School Division

80A-18th Street N.E., Weyburn, SK  S4H 2W4

Telephone:  (306) 848-0080

Website: www.secpsd.ca

Email:  contactus@secpsd.ca