Notes from the April 22, 2020 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education
Coordinator of Curriculum, Michael Graham, was pleased to provide the Board with a succinct presentation on his work and that of the curriculum and career development teams over the course of the year. Graham explained, "I need to make sure I am current in all the effective practices so that I can lead, review, assess and improve the educational programming in our classrooms for our teachers and our students." Among other miscellaneous roles, he works to actualize the curriculum in all subject areas from grade 6-12 while working closely with the Ministry of Education with respect to their policies and programs. He explained that his budget planning takes into consideration eight main areas: subject resource purchases for gr. 6-12, band programming, home school (175 students), the career development and curriculum teams, professional learning communities (PLCs), mentorship and teacher accreditation.
The educator was excited about a comprehensive program resource for K-8 called MathUp, developed by Dr. Marian Small whose name and face is familiar to SECPSD due to previous work with the division. The online instructional solution pilot started in SECPSD prior to the educational stop and pause in March and is focused on grade 1-6 because those resources are specifically aligned to Saskatchewan curricular at this time. Although the division originally started with 15 pilot teachers, since COVID-19 the publisher opened up the resource free of charge for all teachers. Thus, all SECPSD grade 1-6 math teachers have access to the resource so they can try it out, with feedback expected to be gathered by June so that next steps can be determined going forward. Graham described it as a good, curricular-aligned resource that includes a lot of self-directed teacher PD. The resource is currently going through a vetting process with the Ministry of Education. He stated, "I anticipate that it is going to be considered one of the core resources moving forward once that vetting process is completed."
On another note, the Coordinator has researched and collated several programs and contests to provide alternate supports for students who are working above grade level or who would benefit from an additional challenge above their classroom work, rather than having them do more of the same work or working on the next grade. These programs, promoted over the past few years, can be seen as extensions of learning to foster mastery of learning and include the SE Regional Science Fair (2020 fair cancelled; however May 2020 online virtual STEMfest will continue); Skills Canada program, Canadian Kangaroo Math contest (online alternative format – March 29, 2020), the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing Math & Coding contests, writing contests and the Canadian Geographic Challenge for use in social studies.
This year there are 72 teachers working in 14 registered PLCs throughout the division covering various content areas such as book studies, specific subject areas, two administrators' PLCs, one for capacity building and shared leadership and another that has been working on Truth & Reconciliation and indigenizing education, as well as several new PLCs which kicked off the morning of April 22 with teacher groups who are creating supplemental learning for their classrooms via subject and grade-alike groups for teachers to support one another in what presently appears to be a resource sharing platform.
The full report, which covered the areas of teacher development, graduation supports, home school and curriculum supports, may be accessed here.
Monitoring Report on Board Policy 12.3 – Fiscal Responsibility
For the fourth consecutive year, Shelley Toth, CFO/Superintendent of Division Services reported 100% compliance in all fiscal areas outlined in Board Policy number 12, section 3 with respect to the role of the Director of Education in terms of fiscal responsibility. The six areas are: management, operation, insurance coverage, emergency expenditures, budget adjustments within approved categories up to an accumulated total of $100,000 and business continuity and security of the division's information management and technology assets. Supporting evidence referenced throughout the report included an independent audit performed by Virtus Group for the year ended August 31, 2019, insurance renewal completed on February 1, 2020 and board approval on February 13, 2019 for the purchase of a 3.5 year subscription to Lexia reading program. The CFO's information systems security report indicated that security incidents are evaluated as critical, major, moderate or minor in terms of systems, service and privacy and that since her last report to the Board there were six incidents, each of which was classified as minor.
2020-2021 School Year Calendar
As per annual practice, SECPSD took the opportunity to work with the South East Cornerstone Teachers' Association and the Holy Family school division to provide employees the opportunity to vote on two calendar options for the upcoming school year while taking into account appropriate Ministry/provincial guidelines. Deputy Director of Education Keith Keating explained that the vote resulted in 82% of staff favouring calendar option #2 which will see teaching staff returning on August 25 and classes commencing on September 1. The calendar includes a two week Christmas break, a one week February break and a one week break at Easter. Classes will conclude on June 28 and the last day for teachers will be June 30. The 2020-2021 school year calendar received Board approval and can be accessed at www.secpsd.ca on the front page under Documents.
Status and Work regarding COVID-19 Response
Director of Education/CEO Lynn Little spent a few moments reviewing with the Board the journey that SECPSD students, staff and parents have been on for the past few weeks in relation to the division's response to COVID-19, in which she spoke to the timeline, process, supplemental learning, learning packages, new meeting platform and access to technology. The situation moved rapidly and involved numerous teleconferences and conversations with the Ministry of Education, Directors of Education, Board Chairs Council, system administration, school administration and families.
From the initial official COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness conference call by the Deputy Minister of Education with provincial Directors of Education on Thursday, March 12 to Premier Moe's indefinite school suspension announcement on March 16 with an effective date of March 20 and a preference for parents to immediately keep their children home if childcare could be found, to the provincial state of emergency declared on March 18 (still effect), followed by a one week pause from March 20-27 to re-set education and to allow the frontline to develop a response framework, the rapidly developing situation called for SECPSD to enact their Pandemic Preparedness Plan and to establish business continuity plans for essential services, which continue to date.
Little shared that from March 30 to April 2 teachers reached out to all SECPSD families to explain optional learning opportunities provided through the plan to deliver supplemental curricula for all families who chose to participate and that support would be provided for all. She reported that as of April 2 staff had been able to reach 88% of students and that of those 95% (6,931 or 7,303) had indicated they wanted to participate in supplemental learning. Since then learning packages have been provided to families and SECPSD's courier service began on April 21 with bus drivers being assigned routes. The service will run twice weekly for families who have registered. There are 349 students receiving learning packages at this time. As well, as of Good Friday 620 legacy laptops were deployed to families, with 113 additional pieces of technology being prepared for delivery in the second wave, with a third wave pending.
Group face to face meetings and classroom instruction across the system have been transitioning to meetings via the Microsoft Teams platform, a tool that was already available to staff and administration through the division's Office365 suite that was purchased and installed across the system prior to recent communication and education delivery adaptations resulting from the pandemic. The division is now looking at moving from a COVID response initiative to the rest of the work that was disrupted, such as staffing, budget and the learning plan as well as contemplating questions that are yet to be answered around graduation, when students will return to schools, what that will look like and the continued support of students, staff and parents.
In conclusion, the Director shared challenges (getting families set up with technology, informing everyone of the need to find balance, day to day unknowns, isolation); silver linings (resources being developed now that will be useable after the return to school, staff commitment and adaptation to the new normal, staff connections to families, outstanding support from the community, a stronger school team) and messages to parents (patience, we will get through this together, we feel deeply for you at this time, we are here for you and your children, whatever you are managing to do right now, it's your best and you're best is good enough) received as feedback from a survey with school administrators. Little's full report to the Board can be viewed here.
Quarterly Operating and 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 February 29, 2020. The Statement of Operations indicates that revenue of $59,265,028 was received up to February 29, 2020, while expenses incurred up to this period of time were $58,226,807. As of the report date the school division's year to date expenses total approximately 53.9 % of budget. This illustrates the division is remaining on track financially at the half way point into the current fiscal year.
The projection for the full fiscal year was presented within the report. This projection was completed prior the COVID-19 adjustments being made. Thus, the projection may see changes going forward. This projection includes variances from budget in the grants and tuition revenue, complementary and external services, as well as other revenue areas with the net adjustment being an increase in revenue of $523,173. With the projections from all budget managers taken into consideration, the expenses have variations from budget in all categories. At this time, the expectation for total expenses is to be under budget by $498,351.
Correspondence received by the Board from the Saskatchewan Physical Education Association expressed appreciation for the following schools that will be receiving a Quality Daily Physical Education award plaque or patch for their existing plaque, for their participation in the QDPE program this school year: McNaughton High School, Gordon F. Kells High School, Assiniboia Park Elementary School, MacLeod Elementary School and Gladmar Regional School, and stated, "These schools have joined a select number of schools from Saskatchewan and nationally who made a commitment to provide a high quality physical education program for their students. They have completed an intense online application in order to exemplify and qualify for this award." The Board congratulates the five schools on their achievement.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Board Room News Briefs, COVID-19, Curriculum, Fiscal Responsibility
|05.06.20||Board Strategic Planning Meeting|
|05.20.20||Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting|
|05.20.20||Regular (Public) Board Meeting|
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South East Cornerstone Public School Division
80A-18th Street N.E., Weyburn, SK S4H 2W4
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