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Board Highlights (February 2019)

February 15, 2019

​Notes from the February 13, 2019 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division Board of Educationlogo-vertical.jpg

Monitoring Report on System Goal #3 - Our division and its schools effectively use information to measure, monitor and report continuous improvement

A report on system goal #3, majorly focused on the learning component of the school division, was kicked off by Director of Education Lynn Little who stated that across the system a variety of data systems are used in all departments at all levels to enable SECPSD to be the data driven school division that it is. She spoke to assessment and reporting tools, data monitoring, annual department overviews, Thoughtexchange, programs and resources.  Little and Board Chair Audrey Trombley then welcomed Superintendents of Schools, Kevin Hengen, Gord Husband and Shelley Sargent to the board table to give a snapshot of tools and resources utilized in SECPSD to meet the said goal.

Kevin Hengen, Superintendent for the east service area, emphasized that SECPSD believes that regular and punctual attendance is necessary for student success.  To that end he explained the Attendance Monitoring Checklist (AMC) developed in-house last February to measure and monitor student attendance and to chart what interventions the school has undertaken to support student needs to improve attendance.  The unique website populates attendance pie-charts and provides a complete report of individual student attendance as well as school wide attendance including chronic absences and severely chronic absences.  It also includes system wide attendance numbers.  The data is updated in the system nightly around 8:00 PM; thus, providing principals basically live data for daily review.  The system also allows for a "watch list" for students who are considered attending but are approaching the 10% absenteeism threshold so school staff can reach out before the student attains that mark. Information gleaned from the AMC is brought to the Student Support Team on a weekly basis for determination of the most appropriate steps to take with respect to interventions outlined in the AMC such as a phone call home, a "nudge" letter to the parent to illustrate how much school the student has been missing compared to the student body, interviews, student support plans, conferences, counsellor referrals, home visits and ultimately, where applicable, possible referrals to partnering agencies for further support.  Hengen was pleased to announce that overall there have been improvements in attendance this year.

Superintendent for the west area schools, Gord Husband, presented on how schools measure, monitor and improve student behavior and well-being via information obtained from students and staff through several means.  Based on the most recent research on school and classroom effectiveness, the Our School Survey utilized by the division measures 31 indicators at the elementary level and 37 indicators at the secondary level.  As an example, Husband provided outcomes data for 2017 for the category "Social-Emotional" which relates to positive sense of belonging, relationships and self-esteem, behavior at school, and levels of anxiety and depression.  Information can then be used by the school staff to initiate school-based projects and events to address the general needs of the student body as well as the needs of the individual student. 

The Behaviour Screen, for which student counsellors are the leads in each school, consists of 30 questions, and is administered to students from grade 3 to 12 each fall.  It is primarily used to track student behavior.  Students self-assess and are also assessed by the teacher, often with aligning results. Sample student questions with a ranking range of never/sometimes/often/almost always were:  I am liked by others; School is boring; My parents trust me; and I worry about what is going to happen, with the teacher's  mirrored statements being:  Is good at getting people to work together; Says, "Nobody likes me;" Pays attention; Worries about things that cannot be changed. "The two pieces of data are brought together to build wholistic plans for student interventions," Husband stated.  In addition, this year there is a third piece of data, the Saskatchewan Alliance for Youth and Community Well-Being (SAYCW) survey, mentioned during last month's public board meeting, which will be included in the plan to support student wellbeing as best the division can.

South area superintendent, Shelley Sargent, provided a presentation on Thoughtexchange, a tool used to facilitate data-driven decisions.  Thoughtexchange's open experience software empowers leaders to surface answers to open-ended questions in real-time.  It also incorporates anonymity so that participants focus on the ideas shared and not who shared them.  Sargent noted that it has been used by the division with students, parents, teachers, administrators and school community council (SCC) members to measure how something is progressing, to gather input and/or to provide feedback. 

The Superintendent explained that last fall the exchange was used to gather input from SCC members in setting the agenda for the annual regional workshops which were held in November in Maryfield, Midale and Estevan.  The members were given the opportunity to provide discussion topics of interest to them, view all the thoughts that were generated from other SCCs and then star those that were important to them to see what collectively was most important to SCC members across the division.  The process resulted in 69 participants, 41 thoughts and 657 stars, with 38/41 thoughts receiving stars. The five questions developed from the top themes that emerged, discussed via small groups at the workshops, were:  1) How can we support children's mental health? 2) What are other SCCs doing to support school initiatives?  3) What are ways in which the SCC can make meaningful contributions to the Learning Plan? 4) How do you communicate with your parents and community? and 5) How can we support and promote parent involvement on the SCC?  The information gathered was collated and later shared with the SCC members. 

The three education superintendents were pleased with the feedback received through the three question exit slips provided at the workshop, estimating that they were completed and returned by 90% or more of the total participants.  Responses received regarding what the participants liked or would change about the evening's event as well as what information members would like to see addressed next year will be revisited next fall when plans for the next annual workshop focus get underway.  Elwood White, board representative for subdivision 6, commented, "I thought the SCC workshops this year were probably the best that I've been to and I'm even happier when I see the question for data from SCC members.  So it's their meeting with information that they want to see rather than ideas that we've brought forward … awesome this year."

Further evidence of system goal #3 was showcased by Operations Supervisor Jim Swyryda via a live overview of Asset Planner (formerly known as FAME), a web-based software platform that provides service managers with a customizable capital planning tool to help better understand the physical condition of the division's facilities in order to make informed decisions about capital expenditures, PMR and maintenance.  Service requests are input, prioritized, assigned, scheduled, executed, monitored and then closed if they are:  completed, budget items, denied or withdrawn.  Swyryda referred to the priority management system as "a work order system to operate the entire department."  Since September 1st 1,136 maintenance-related service requests have been entered into the system with an average of 20 per day. Since 2008 there have been 25,316 requests.  These do not include budgeted projects and are solely what the schools are asking over and above the caretakers' responsibilities.  The planner shows a list of projects in progress and if, for instance, one has a 25 year life span the system will track that it has to be looked at in 25 years. It was noted that the Ministry has access to the Asset Planner program for each school division.

Facilities & Transportation Report (2018-2019)

Andy Dobson, Manager of Facilities & Transportation, presented the Board with his second annual report since the amalgamation of the facilities and transportation departments under his portfolio.  He reported that transportation has been incorporated into the department's five year strategic business plan to support the schools.  The plan has nine goals and objectives and is revisited on an annual basis to adjust timelines and such.   Dobson further reported that the 9th annual department inservice was held at Estevan Comprehensive last fall with 195 participants and that it was tied into the bus driver recognition piece. This year's inservice is slated to be held in Weyburn; however, the department will consider whether to change the inservice frequency to biennial.  A bus drivers' start up meeting was held last fall on a different day for each of the three areas and will become an annual event for practical purposes such as reviewing the transportation manual and applicable administrative procedures and to practice bus evacuation procedures.  Several new initiatives for the department are an on-line complaint form, bus driver performance reviews, looking into defensive driving third party assessments, a list of Frequently Asked Questions for new bus students that was put together for division wide consistency and a quick reference guide for administrators.

While at this time last year Dobson gave the Board a glimpse of the proposed design for the future PreK-6 Weyburn elementary school he was pleased to report that the contractor, Wright Construction, is now mobilizing on site.  Further, likely next week they will be putting the perimeter construction fence around, pilings will go into the ground the first part of March and the company will then have 24 months to complete the school. In response to City of Weyburn board member Melanie Sorensen's question around the timeline, Dobson stated that although the project is already seven months behind schedule he is confident that the school will open in September of 2021 as scheduled.

SEIU-West Agreement

A motion to ratify the tentative 4-year agreement as negotiated between the Board of Education and the Service Employees Union–West for the period September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2022 was passed by the Board.  SEIU-West encompasses Education Assistants, Library Technicians, Custodians, Maintenance-Journeypersons, Kitchen/Cafeteria staff, Administrative Assistants and School Bus Drivers.  Vice-Chair Carol Flynn expressed, "I really appreciate the work that the team working on this did. Really good job!"

Lexia Reading Pilot

The Board passed a motion to allocate $314,300 of its accumulated surplus for the purchase of a 3.5 year subscription to Lexia Power Up Literacy Program for Grades 6-12 and Lexia Core5 Reading Program for Grades PreK-5.  The Director of Education explained that Lexia is a blended, individualized program focusing on reading, word study, grammar and comprehension and that due to the success of the pilot which will conclude shortly, staff and administration are enthusiastic to continue to utilize it to support students.

Recognition

On behalf of SECPSD Superintendent Kevin Hengen was honoured to attend a ceremony to accept a Certificate of Appreciation from the Canadian Forces Liaison Council's Awards and Recognition Program, along with nominator, Leading Seaman/teacher Alaura Campbell.

Articles by Norm Park

Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links:  Contract, Project Extension, Shaping the Future, System Monitoring, Transportation and Facilities

Upcoming Meetings

February 25 19Public Section Executive Meeting
March 6 19Board Strategic Planning Meeting
March 22 19JSGS Governance Program, Session 2/3 (One Board Member)
March 27 19Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting
March 27 19Regular (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