Notes from the September 18, 2019 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education
Quarterly Operating 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, 2019. 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 receivables and payables 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, 2019 will be presented to the Board following the audit process.
Monitoring Report on System Goal #1–Our students have opportunities to learn and succeed in every school.
A team of presenters provided the Board with a report on System Goal #1. Lynn Little, Director of Education, emphasized that SECPSD strives to ensure that every student regardless of school, grade, or diverse situation, has an opportunity to learn and succeed and explained that the division has a vast and knowledgeable learning support team to support students with designations or requirements for supports beyond what is provided for all in the classrooms. Her nine-page report listed the team roles that are in place (over 245 FTE individuals), which includes educational assistants, counsellors and learning support teachers among other professional staff. In addition, the divisional team of 17 consultants assists teachers in supporting students in a variety of areas, i.e. learning support, curriculum and instructional technology. Little reported that new this year is a First Nations, Métis, Inuit (FNMI) consultant position, stating, "We are really excited about the opportunities to continue to support Truth and Reconciliation in our system as well as supporting teachers with instructing treaty outcomes and supporting all of our youth in the schools."
The Director was pleased to present graduation rates data received the day prior, emphasizing that the results are a "huge celebration point." She explained that SECPSD had set a 3 year graduation stretch goal of 90% and came in at 91% - a great accomplishment through the hard work of students and staff. The division's stretch goal of 95% for students graduating in a 5 year window results fell just slightly below at 93%. This year 71% of self-identified FNMI students graduated in the 3 year window, which met the division's numerical target. However, Little explained that while SECPSD is, "very proud of that achievement the overall goal is to be at par as we do not want there to be a discrepancy among any of our populations." Compiled data brought forward over all the legacy divisions for on time graduation rates over three years for all students bounced around from 82.5% (1996/97 to 1998/99); down to 79.8% (2007/08 to 2009/10) and then up to 90.8% (2016/17 to 2018/19), portraying that all the work done as a system and outlined in the wall walk data is coming to fruition.
Cyber Stone Virtual School - Jeff Walters, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, together with Susan Wilson, Principal of Cyber Stone Virtual School, (CSVS) provided an overview of the programming, courses, supports, student opportunities and success of the on-line Grade 8-12 school starting with a history of online learning at SECPSD which commenced in 2006. First offerings focused on synchronous Math, ELA and PAA which was quite challenging at the time. CSVS opened around 2012/13 with grade 8 & 9 classes being offered in 2016/17. The school now has 7.2 FTE teachers and graduation requirements for students in grade 8-12 can be fulfilled. The school currently offers 46 courses with a 47th course, Creative Writing 20, to start in semester 2. Wilson explained that the course is being offered partly in response to teachers who stated it would be beneficial if CSVS could offer a creative writing course as an outlet for exploring some of the mental health issues experienced by students.
All CSVS students are tracked in a database (the Online Registration Portal). Although numbers change every day, there are presently 399 unique students comprising 667 course enrolments with some of the popular courses being Psych 20 & 30, History 30, LT 30 and Accounting 10. The Instructional Technology Coordinator stated that 2,304 credits were earned in a four year period (2015-2019). In 2018/19 Cyber Stone made some changes to enable student success by setting a goal to get more students through in semester 1 so as to leave more room for students in semester 2; using credit recovery well; and through the implementation of a mandatory introductory course for all students which enables them to see the demands of online learning. Each course has a common layout for familiarity and a completion checklist. Teachers are reaping the benefits of strategies they have put in place through a growth mindset and the personalized learning opportunities they work so hard to create to assist students in achieving their educational goals.
Cyber Stone completion rates for 1,039 students were: 65% completed (successful), 1% who may still get a credit because they are eligible for credit recovery, 4% extended to next year, 20% withdrawn (student initiated), 2% not completed (grade 8-9 students who don't get credits or didn't complete a course), and 8% withdrawn (teacher initiated). Board Chair Audrey Trombley was encouraged by the completion rates, commenting that she is aware that success rates for students enrolled in online courses across the province can be challenging. The Coordinator and Principal concluded their report with several testimonials from staff and students shared via video clips and Powerpoint slides.
Supporting Inclusion and Safety in SECPSD - Tracey Kiliwnik, Coordinator of Learning Supports and Amber Fornwald, Student Services Consultant, shared a report on the support structure, behavioural intervention process and professional training, primarily focusing on one component of the behavior process - Quality Behaviour Solutions (QBS), provided in SECPSD. As described in the Director of Education's report, "QBS is a behavioural skills training company which provides training and consultation to educational settings. It integrates evidence-based behavioural research and practice into all consulting and training programs. Trained staff are better equipped to support the inclusion and safety of all children individually so they can be successful within a classroom."
Kiliwnik explained that SECPSD educates all staff including EAs, bus drivers, students and parents that while some children learn differently others behave differently and to this end there are different supports and strategies that are put into place to support all SECPSD students so that every student has the opportunity to participate in their classroom in an inclusive environment with their peers. She stated, "All children have the opportunity for success regardless of need or ability in every SECPSD school."
It was explained that there is always a reason for children behaving in a certain way. There could be hidden or invisible disabilities such as trauma, debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, mental health disorders such ADHD or Dyslexia. For some children that have higher behavioural needs, academics is not the focus. The focus will be on having that child be able to function in an inclusive classroom, thus the need to focus on the behavioural piece before academics. Kiliwnik stated, "We need to get to the root of the problem in order to implement the strategies that each child needs," with the goal being to eliminate all barriers that may hold a child back from functioning within a classroom and being able to be part of an active community.
Kiliwnik also spoke of the guiding principles: "Fair isn't equal." Fair means that we all get what we need. "Behind every mad is a sad." Connection seeking not attention seeking. Connection before Direction and Consequences need to be logical and appropriate. She emphasized that the main focus is always on safety and that relationships are everything. She explained that the student support team works collaboratively with every teacher who has a child with behavioural needs, to support the student, the other students in the classroom and the teacher. Staff are educated that there are different strategies for working with each child in accordance with their needs. This could involve taking a break and utilizing sensory rooms/corners. While working with the children, staff always keep in mind the Education Act, Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the SK Human Rights Code, knowing that "Every student has the right to receive instruction appropriate to that person's age and level of educational achievement."
Kiliwnik stated that since she has been working in SECPSD the division has received a lot of children from other school divisions who have been in segregated classrooms, who have been in a one to one situation stating, "I can't think of a situation where we haven't successfully been able to integrate those children back into the classroom and to be with their peers … We have a lot of successes in our schools that we are very proud of." She outlined the journey of training educational assistants, counsellors and learning support teachers, developing a QBS safety plan (unique to the division) with procedures and processes, developing QBS teams to deal with managing children should an occasion arise, and the focus on the behaviour process as well as PD Hub modules. Currently there are 14 trainers across the division with 221 staff already trained and 43 scheduled for training (series 1). Staff must retrain annually.
Fornwald, in her role of trainer for eight years, explained Quality Behaviour Safety Care which provides tools that teachers and staff may require when working with behaviourally challenging individuals and has been used in many different settings with individuals presenting with many conditions and behaviour problems. It is evidence and research based supporting Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Each SECPSD school employs PBIS. She gave examples of de-escalation strategies (help, prompt, wait), implemented one step at a time, by adjusting strategies until one is found that works in order to decrease a child's behaviour from crisis to calm. Although the number of students on QBS plans constantly fluctuates, current numbers are: Level 1 (10); Level 2 (14) and Level 3 (16), with plans being reviewed every 4-6 weeks and more often when needed.
The Coordinator concluded the report by reminding everyone that "Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way."
The Lord's Prayer
In accordance with The Education Act, a motion was passed by the Board 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 for the 2019/20 school year.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Board Briefs, Board Reconvenes, Cyber Stone, Inclusion and Safety
October 1/19 – Public Section Executive Meeting
October 2/19 – Board Strategic Planning Meeting
October 15/19 – Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting & Regular 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