Notes from the November 18, 2020 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division Board of Education
The November 18, 2020 regular board meeting saw the return of six familiar faces to the board table for a new term of office. Carol Flynn (Subdivision 1), Jim Vermeersch (Subdivision 2), Jim Henderson (Subdivision 3), Audrey Trombley (Subdivision 5) and Kevin Keating (City of Estevan), all acclaimed on October 8, as well as Melanie Sorensen (City of Weyburn), elected on November 9 will continue to serve as board members. In addition, four new board members were welcomed to the table. Eric McCrimmon (City of Estevan), Tami Scott (Subdivision 4) and Jennifer Wilkinson (Subdivision 6), all acclaimed on October 8, and Norma Hewitt-Lendrum (City of Weyburn), elected on November 9, have come on board to complete the 10 seats on the SECPSD Board of Education for the 2020-2024 term.
Lorna Rushfeldt appeared before the Board to appeal a transportation decision with respect to her child.
Deputy Director/Human Resources Report
The Board received a report overview of the general structure of senior leadership in the division, staffing levels across the system, employee agreements that are managed at this time, risk management items and targeted areas of work moving forward. In presenting the report, Deputy Director of Education Keith Keating explained that similar to last year, he continues to oversee two main areas of responsibility, namely, human resource services which oversees approximately 1,000 employees and school operations which encompasses around 8,000 students across 38 schools.
As far as the division's organizational structure at the division level, Keating said this year saw the Manager of Facilities & Transportation position/department move out from under the portfolio of the Superintendent of Division Services to fall directly under the Director of Education. He explained that this was partly due to some of the changes in COVID-19 and a number of issues that surfaced in transportation and facilities as a result of some of the accompanying changes, thus the need to shift the position over to have a more direct connection to some of the COVID-19 plans happening at the school division level.
In terms of educational staffing, Keating reported 528.91 full time equivalent teachers (FTE), a snapshot taken at a particular time, in addition to support staff of which Educational Assistants are the largest group with 137.6 FTE contracts held across the division. This fall there was an increase in 13.3 teachers to staff Cyber Stone Virtual School (CSVS) due to increased enrolment. With the school moving from a grade 8-12 configuration to a K-12 school due to the pandemic and a current population of around 400 base students the administrative team will increase to add a vice-principal. As there is further influx into CSVS, staffing will be adjusted accordingly to compensate for the number of enrolled students. At the same time, with some of the COVID-19 allocations coming from the provincial government and the limitations of student numbers in classrooms the division has made adjustments to maintain stable staffing in schools.
The deputy director stated that there was a 25% increase in the facilities department from last year to try to help accommodate some of the extra cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas that is required due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the five employee agreements that fall under Keating's responsibilities, the LINC agreement will expire in July 2021 at which time negotiations to extend the agreement with the local teachers' group will be undertaken. Both the CUPE and SEIU agreements will expire in 2022. The deputy director reported that the Out-of-Scope Handbook which covers non-unionized school division employees, other than the Senior Leadership Team, has been updated to incorporate language changes, references to the Saskatchewan Employment Act and practices that have been in place since amalgamation but were never included in the handbook, and is being rolled out to staff. Superintendent Employment Agreements are also managed at the division level.
Some COVID-19 related risks being overseen this year are the management and safety of staff and students, quarantine leaves, staff shortages and helping with the preparation for shifting to levels 3 or 4 of the Health and Safety Response Plan at local school levels as may be required. Work with respect to the vice-principal evaluation process, first steps of an administrator development and induction program and development of a process to train special educators within SECPSD have all been slowed down on account of the pandemic. Keating mentioned several targeted work areas which include planning for staffing and the opening of Legacy Park Elementary School in Weyburn in the fall of 2021 and the continuation of the Saskatchewan Association of Safe Work Places in Health (SASWH) and Workers' Compensation Board (WBC) three year implementation plan pilot. As well, the division is looking at a process for all school administrators to review pertinent Administrative Procedures at the school level and a process to track all employee certifications electronically through the Human Resource system for various training such as First Aide, Violent Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
SECPSD Audited Financial Statements and Annual Report
The 2019-2020 Annual Financial Report was presented by Shelley Toth, Superintendent of Division Services/CFO. The 2019-20 fiscal year resulted in revenues of $118.7 million and operating expenses of $104.6 million for a net surplus of $14.1 million, which is $6.3M higher than the budgeted surplus of $7.8 million. The higher than budgeted surplus is largely due to higher than budgeted capital grant revenue for the construction of the Legacy Park Elementary School and lower than budgeted expenditures due to operational changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the operating expenses noted above, the division invested $20.5 million in tangible capital asset additions which included $15 million towards the construction of Legacy Park Elementary School and $2.8 million towards the construction and equipment for a new bus garage in Weyburn. Both projects were still under construction at the end of the fiscal year. Other asset additions included nine school buses, six fleet vehicles, a variety of furniture and equipment as well as computer hardware and audio-visual equipment across the division.
The division ended the 2019-2020 fiscal year with an accumulated surplus of $160.5 million consisting of: $123.8 million in tangible capital assets; $3.3 million in restricted Ministry funding for PMR projects (Preventative, Maintenance and Renewal) to assist with maintaining the division's facilities; $7.3 million in designated assets restricted for specific use (including $1.8 million in COVID-19 related savings that has been restricted for future capital purchases) and $26 million in unrestricted surplus. It was noted that unrestricted surplus decreased by $4.4M from the prior year. The reduction in unrestricted surplus is represented by $2.8 million for the new bus garage in Weyburn, as no funding is provided by the Ministry for the construction of non-school buildings, and $1.6M for general operating costs of the school division.
The financial statements have been audited by an external auditor and reviewed by the office of the Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan and were found to present fairly, in all materials respects, the financial position of the school division as at August 31, 2020. As per the recommendation of SECPSD's Audit Committee, the Board approved the Auditor's Report and Audited Financial Statements for the period ending August 31, 2020, pending possible format revisions following final review by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance. The report and statements will become part of SECPSD's 2019-2020 Annual Report, which was also approved by motion for submission to the Ministry.
The Board was pleased to receive correspondence from the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association (SHSAA) highlighting the service of Ryan Fowler, principal of Weyburn Comprehensive School, on the SHSAA Executive Council for the 2020-2021 school year, and is appreciative of his representation and contributions via the council.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Financial Report, Human Resources, New Faces, Organization Meeting
|11.19.20||Board Chairs & Directors Conference Call|
|11.25.20||Public Section AGM|
|TBA||School Community Council Forum|
|12.02.20||New Board Member Orientation|
|12.02.20||Board Strategic Planning Meeting|
|12.16.20||Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting|
|12.16.20||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,Website: www.secpsd.ca