News Item

Board Highlights (January 2019)

January 21, 2019

logo-vertical.jpgNotes from the January 16, 2019 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education

Transportation Report & General Contractor Approval

The first segment of a bi-annual transportation report with the second portion scheduled to come in June was received by the Board of Education during their January 16 regular meeting.  This is a frequency change from the previous tri-annual reporting requirement, recommended by the Provincial Auditor, which more accurately aligns with the school year.  In his presentation, which covered the period September 1 to December 31, 2018, Andy Dobson, Manager of Facilities & Transportation, informed the Board that bus cancellations have been down due to having an ideal winter thus far other than in October when there were a few snowstorms and then freezing rain, and that the weather has not been too cold even as far as mechanical issues. During the reporting period 4,189 students were transported on 157 routes with 116.5 cancellations.  There are 114 bus drivers and 41 subs not counting the number of drivers and subs First Student employs. Dobson stated that the contract with First Student ends on June 30 and "we will then go to tender."  He was especially pleased to announce that the division has just received nine new buses, an item that will be covered in his June update to the Board.

A motion to accept the tender of Wright Construction Western Inc. of Saskatoon for the construction of the new Weyburn Elementary School with a budget of $24,653,558 received Board approval.  Dobson reported that July 2021 is the target date to be in the school with a September opening. He stated that although lessons were learned from the Weyburn Comprehensive School project, the two projects cannot be compared, "This is a blank canvas, simple. We are not renovating and finding things." Further, WCS was a school that was occupied. He is hopeful that even with the Ministry's changes in capital procurement, i.e., requirements for commissioning and hiring a project manager, it will pay dividends further on.

Instructional Technology Report

Now in his second year as the Coordinator of Instructional Technology (IT), Jeff Walters' instructional technology department report opened with an introduction to the new team:  Michael Van Betuw (west) and Curtis Bourassa (south), both of whom were previously filling other roles in the division, as well as retired Coordinator of Instructional Technology Dr. Peggy Lawson (east) who returned to cover Grant Taylor's leave to work with the new provincial MySchoolSask student information system. 

The IT presentation, containing a series of video clips, focused on departmental priorities around Century 21st learning, educational technology updates and integration into pedagogy and the classroom as well as participation in the implementation of the new provincial student information system, with the first video showcasing the testimony of a young Lampman student who was having a medical procedure done in BC  and was enabled to use the Double, a telepresence robot, mostly to socialize with her classmates.

Walters provided a screencast of the professional development (PD) hub, a cooperative of the school division and the division's teachers' association to provide PD without involving travel, used since last year.  He stated, "It is nice to be a leader in the province with some of this technology that people like to use.  We license some content but then have our own home grown ones, some of which are very specific to our system, tailored to SECPSD," such as for Guided Math-The Mathematician's Workshop in which a video was prepared of a teacher providing small group instruction as an example to be shared with teachers and students so they can go back and view it as often as desired, thus facilitating student success.

There are now about 50 modules available 24/7 within the hub which is responsive to the needs of the division with topics such as truth and reconciliation, mental health and suicide being recent additions. The I.T. department creates the shell and then the consultants and staff provide the content.  For last year's Learning Fair each school was tasked with populating content on something they were proud of at their school.  The various modules were a great addition to the hub. The Coordinator explained that when a teacher takes one of the modules they can add it to their PD portfolio but the challenge is how to track and monitor participation. A highlight was that the division's hub work afforded an opportunity to present at the National Congress on Rural Education in Canada last winter in Saskatoon attended by school board members and educational leaders from across the country.

Walters emphasized the success of the division's Cyber Stone Virtual School which employs 7.2 FTE teachers who adapt, change and modify the programs to meet the students' needs, explaining that, "They prepare as though it were a face to face class but modify it for online learning." He stated that students may be from small town Saskatchewan but they are learning multiple skillsets.  Board member Elwood White interjected, "It's a great way of balancing educational equity."

When the data was reviewed in September, Cyber Stone had an enrolment of 496 students taking either semester one courses or flex (all year).  Last year 583 credits were granted through the school which Walters described as "very personable" allowing for quick turnaround in situations where a student is on a leave and in need of programming, or for instance, when a substitute teacher is required to fill in.

Student Services Report

Tracey Kiliwnik, Coordinator of Learning Supports, brought a combined report on both the learning supports and student services departments to the Board.  The 31-slide PowerPoint presentation focused on data pertaining to intensive need students, English as an Additional Language students, educational psychologist and occupational therapist assessments, Review 360, the South East Regional Hub, Jordan's Principle as well as counsellor and community education liaison data.  She stated that "all our initiative data comes back to what is most important – the student" and that it was easy for the division to adopt the Ministry of Education's student first model because right from the beginning SECPSD's vision of success and achievement for every student in every school placed the student foremost in everything.

Kiliwnik stated that every year SECPSD is required to report to the Ministry the number of identified SECPSD students with disabilities and that in the current school year there are 177 students identified as having intensive needs. Their programming is supported by the division's learning support teachers within the classroom.  When identifying the students, the divisional team works through a Ministry document "An Impact Assessment" to ascertain the support that the students receive at the school level through SECPSD personnel and then through outside agencies. In addition, the division identified and supports a total of 74 complex medical and/or behavioural needs Tier 2 students who have worked through the intervention model but will probably still require additional support throughout their schooling, however don't quite meet the criteria for intensive needs, with most of the students having an individual academic plan and most likely working two to three grades below their curricular and academic outcomes. Kiliwnik provided a chart of the number of occasional and frequent intensive need students which depicted an increase in students with severe hearing issues to nine; 43 identified with an intellectual disability, 45 on the autism spectrum and ten with a physical health impairment such as kindergarten students with diabetes. A new set of data showed that there are a considerable number of students ages 5-7 and 12-16 with intensive needs. 

New data pertaining to educational psychologists' (EP) completed assessments relating to academic, behaviour, post-secondary, students accessing outside agencies such as community living or to support programming carried out by the division's 2.5 FTE educational psychologists showed a decline from 107 in 2013-2014 to 86 in 2017-2018. Kiliwnik explained that this is partly due to SECPSD's Response to Intervention model and that the EP process is becoming more defined.

Other new data indicated that the average number of Occupational Therapist (OT) assessments, not including consultation or observation time, completed from 2013-14 to 2016-17 is 51.75, with the number recently decreasing on account of not having any OT's for one school year.  Thus far this year there is one OT serving the students with this number increasing to two come February. A review prior to Christmas indicated that the majority of referrals were coming from Pre-K which lead to a refining of the process as well as the implementation of new guidelines for requesting an OT consultation/assessment. 

Kiliwnik reported that the South East Regional HUB which is an avenue for human services professionals from a variety of disciplines to meet and collaborate on interventionist solutions to situations to support individuals with acutely elevated risk.  She said Coordinator of Student Services Cheryl Anderson sits at this table as a representative from SECPSD.  A graph depicted that over the last six one-year reporting periods the average annual number of referrals taken to the HUB was 21.66, with an average of those being nine from education.

Land Claims

The Board made a motion to accept payments of $3,197.12 and $596.28 for tax loss compensation in recognition of the transfer of land parcels to Ocean Man Reserve, as approved by the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Education of Saskatchewan.  The compensation payment is an estimate of the proportionate share of the trust funds received from the Government of Canada to compensate Boards of Education for the loss of tax revenue when rural lands are set aside as reserves under Special Claims by First Nations.  This program was developed prior to the Government of Saskatchewan change to education funding and property mill rates.

Class Sizes

Director of Education Lynn Little shared with the Board a presentation on the average classroom size across SECPSD providing the background on how class sizes are established and noting that they will vary across the division.  She explained that the division has a staffing formula which is primarily driven by student enrolment.  There is a base number of teachers allocated for overall enrolment and then there is a base number of staff that calculates through to that.  Beyond that the division provides for every school to have a certain amount of time for administration, RtI, learning support teacher(s), unassigned time to meet the division's obligations in the LINC agreement, and Pre-K based on who has been provided Pre-K from the Ministry, with the base number overall across the system being 21.75 with all included. There are also other items that come into play that will adjust the formula a bit, i.e., the small school factor, additional RtI, band itinerants and guidance counsellors.  Little stated that with our current staffing this year with all the pieces taken into consideration our ratio is one teacher per fifteen students with the range in school level average being from 13.0 to 23.4 and the division average class size being 20.43.  This data includes 2,685 courses presently delivered.

SAYCW

The Director of Education informed the Board that from March 4 to April 5, 2019 grades 7 to 12 student will complete the Saskatchewan Alliance for Youth and Community Well-Being (SAYCW) survey, with schools being given the option to participate in only the SAYCW or to do both SAYCW and the OurSchool Survey. The SAYCW is a partnership between health, education and other community stakeholders dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the Saskatchewan population. 

Articles by Norm Park

Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links:  Alliance Project, Class Sizes, Student Services, Technology and Transportation.

Upcoming Meetings

January 30 19Ad Hoc Committee re Estevan Facilities
February 7 19Board Chairs Council Teleconference
February 13 19Committee-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

Website: www.secpsd.ca

Email:  contactus@secpsd.ca