News Item

Board Highlights (November 2018)

November 23, 2018

logo-vertical (002).jpgNotes from the November 21, 2018 Regular (Public) Meeting of the Board of Education of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division

Round Table

The highlight of round table sharing by board members at the top of the meeting was this year's annual workshop held for School Community Council members in the three service areas early in the month.  Board members were extremely pleased with the members' attendance as well as the presentations given by the three school Superintendents (Gord Husband, Kevin Hengen and Shelley Sargent), stating it was "a well worth workshop, excellent presentations, very well received, exciting material, networking was wonderful".  The agenda included an overview of the Education Sector Strategic Plan as well as mental health initiatives, the Welcome to Kindergarten program and an opportunity for the exchange of ideas.

Deputy Director/Human Resources Report

Keith Keating, Deputy Director of Education, provided the Board with an update from the Human Resource Services Department.  The report focused on five areas:  general structure of senior leadership, staffing levels, employee agreements, risk management items and target areas.  Keating stated that the general structure has remained unchanged from last year.  He provided a breakdown of educational staffing for the year (513.7 full time equivalent teachers) which is driven by a staffing formula which has not changed in quite a number of years and is driven by the number of students in the system.  In addition, he provided a breakdown of support staff which is driven based on different numbers with staffing remaining similar to last year.

As far as managing employee agreements, the deputy director reported that both the CUPE and SEIU agreements expired on August 31, 2018.  He is awaiting a date from CUPE for bargaining to commence; however, bargaining has begun with SEIU and will continue in December. The LINC agreement was signed at the end of last year and will expire in 2021.  He also manages two other agreements which are for out of scope staff.

Ongoing risk management items being watched pertain to potential budget shortfalls and impacts on staffing levels.  In particular, one concern is the need to keep front line staff in place.  Other items are bargaining with unionized groups, legal actions that may occur in the school division and the recruitment of key positions such as administrators and specialized positions where there is currently a vacancy for an occupational therapist.  In addition, it can be a challenge to staff rural schools; especially to recruit teachers for math and sciences in those settings. 

This year,  work will focus on the examination and preparation of different staffing levels contingent on budget, administering of the new teachers' Collective Bargaining Agreement and management of the administrators' evaluation which was piloted in 2017-2018 and is being fully implemented this school year. The department is also working on a Vice-Principal evaluation project this year which would then drive professional growth plans.

As well, an administrator development program is being implemented for the purposes of recruitment as well as preparation for when administrators assume those roles.  The division is also piloting a five- year formative assessment process as part of teacher supervision and evaluation with full implementation set for the 2019-2020 school year.  This will provide direct feedback to teachers through administrator observations every five years in order to discuss and set target areas for growth.

SECPSD Audited Financial Statements & Annual Report

The Board passed motions to approve the school division's Auditor's Report and Audited Financial Statement for the period ending August 31, 2018 as well as the school division's Annual Report for 2017-2018, both of which will be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval.

Chief Financial Officer Shelley Toth presented the Auditor's Report and Audited Financial Statements for the period ending August 31, 2018.  She explained that the 2017-2018 fiscal year resulted in revenues of $102.1 million and expenses of $106.4 million, for a net deficit of $4.3 million – higher than the budgeted deficit of $2.2 million.  The higher than budgeted deficit was a result of the transfer of $3.8 million in education property taxes receivable to the provincial government.  Effective January 1, 2018, the school division no longer earns taxation revenue. 

Revenue sources included a $1.7 million increase in the K-12 Operating Grant, a $1 million decrease in capital grants and a $749,000 increase in other revenue (insurance claim funds received, insurance rebate and higher than budgeted interest revenue).  Expenses included $3.8 million for the transfer of education property taxes receivable to the provincial government and a $751,000 loss on the disposal of tangible capital assets (majorly $735,000 for the removal of the Weyburn Junior High from the division's assets as the school has been demolished), both of which Toth stated were unusual expenses for the year.

Salaries and benefits accounted for 70% of the division's total operating expenses and were pretty much on budget with actuals varying by only 0.6%.  Goods and services accounted for 19% of the division's operating expenses, which were under budget by 2.8%.

Mental Health and Wellness Supports

Superintendent of Education Aaron Hiske presented the Board with a report, which was previously shared with the staff, on mental health and wellness supports for staff and students which have been implemented into the curriculum for Grades K-12.  He explained the background, research and rationale for the focus on mental health stating that in 2017-2018 schools across the system were impacted by several students ranging in age from 12-18, who regardless of grade configuration or location engaged in self-harm or self-harm activities. Further, he stated that despite the great work carried out by division counsellors, staff and community support agencies, students needed more supports, and that adults in the system also required supports.  Working in joint effort with the South East Cornerstone Teachers' Association, a wellness committee was struck and SECPSD purchased an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) for teaching staff.

Hiske emphasized that awareness is the initial step to implementation. The division looked for ways to increase the level of awareness for everyone and in particular provide supports to teachers to help them be more aware and more observant of what is going on around them. Through research it was decided that as a data driven division the work of Dr. Stan Kutcher of the University of British Columbia (UBC) was where the division needed to start.

Mental health literacy online modules (6-8 hours) from UBC were built right into the teachers' professional days with grade K-8 teachers taking courses in "Teach Mental Health" and grade 9-12 teachers taking courses in "Bringing Mental Health to Schools. Resources provided to teachers aim to a) prepare teachers to take care of their own mental health and b) to help others.

The division's ELA instructional coaches developed documents to infuse the mental health curriculum into the Saskatchewan curriculum and also developed assessment pieces to support teachers with curriculum implementation as well as pre and post student and teacher evaluations. 

As part of the division's learning plan, during the 2018-19 the division will promote and develop wellness in students through implementation of UBC's MindUP curriculum in all K-8 classrooms as well as the Teen Mental Health Curriculum (piloted by two schools last year) modules in one course (i.e. ELA 10, 20, 30, Wellness 10) and Grade 9 health classes.  The high school curriculum provides a complete set of evidence-based online modular resources proven to increase the understanding of mental health and mental disorders, decrease the stigma of mental illness and enhance help-seeking efficacy among both students and teachers.  

Correspondence

Board Chair Audrey Trombley was pleased to recognize Dan Manning for his outstanding contribution to the Ministry's Physical Education 20/30 Reference Committee from September 2017 to October 2018 in assisting the Ministry of Education in the renewal of those courses.

Articles by Norm Park

Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: 

Financial Report, Human Resources, Mental Health, Organizational Meeting

Upcoming Meetings

December 5, 2018Board Strategic Planning Meeting
December 19, 2018Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting
December 19, 2018Regular (Public) Board Meeting

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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