Notes from the October 14, 2020 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division Board of Education
During round table sharing, Board Chairwoman Audrey Trombley acknowledged Carol Flynn (Subdivision 1), Kevin Keating (switching to City of Estevan), Jim Vermeersch (switching to Subdivision 2) and Jim Henderson (Subdivision 3) who will continue as board members for another four year term as the result of being elected by acclamation on October 8, 2020. Trombley, also acclaimed to continue representing Subdivision 5, applauded outgoing retiring board members Harold Laich (Subdivision 2, who served since 2009), Elwood White (Subdivision 6, who served since 2013) and Shari Sutter (City of Estevan, who served since 2016) for their contributions to their communities and the board, and their dedication of time, commitment, passion and leadership for the benefit of students and staff of SECPSD. Further, she welcomed Eric McCrimmon, board member elect, by acclamation, for the City of Estevan who sat in on the public board meeting. On November 9 three individuals, incumbents Brandon Tichkowsky and Melanie Sorensen, along with Norma Hewitt-Lendrum, will vie for the two City of Weyburn seats. Tami Scott, acclaimed in Subdivision 4, and Jennifer Wilkinson, acclaimed in Subdivision 6, will join the 10-member board when the new term commences next month.
Director of Education Lynn Little reported to the Board that projections completed prior to March and the COVID-19 pandemic, indicated a head count of 8,375 for September 2020 and that this school year January enrolments, rather than the usual September 30 enrolments, will be utilized by the government to carry out a mid-year adjustment to school division grants. The division submitted an enrolment of 8,289 on September 30, a difference of 86 students at this point. Other than Alameda School, Carievale School and Maryfield School which remained the same or increased slightly from projections, all other physical schools were down from projections. Homebased enrolments increased from a projection of 171 to an actual enrolment of 282. Cyber Stone Virtual School, which expanded to a K-12 school, increased from a base projection of 49 to 399, up 350 and is now one of the largest schools in the division. To date, SECPSD has not reduced staff due to enrolment changes in any physical school and has significantly increased staff at CSVS, from 7.2 FTE to 20.5 FTE. The full report is available here.
Viable School Report
Annually, in accordance with Board policy, the Director of Education is tasked with bringing information to the board to give indication of past, current and future enrolment trends and typically other information in terms of cost analysis for schools that fall below provincially established thresholds; however, given where the division is this year in terms of the many challenges with COVID-19 the Board requested that this year's report focus on enrolment pieces only. Thus, Chief Financial Officer Shelley Toth provided charts depicting enrolments for the three schools that fell below the thresholds of 51 students for a K-8 configuration and 88 in a K-12 configuration. Macoun (K-8), Manor (K-12) and Pangman (K-12) came in at enrolments of 47, 59 and 62 respectively. Average projected enrolment trends for the next five years indicate: 54 (Macoun), 62 (Manor) and 61 (Pangman). A motion was passed that the Board will not proceed with any school reviews in the 2020/2021 school year.
Monitoring Report on System Goal #2-Our Students Achieve at High Levels
While there were several incomplete data sets due to the suspension of school in March and the subsequent move to supplemental learning until June, current data was presented in the Director of Education's Monitoring Report on System Goal #2 highlighting the achievement of students at high levels. Data included secondary marks, core indicator data for all students as well as for self-declared FNMI students; writing data provincial assessments for grades 4, 7 and 9; mathematics data, provincial assessments for grades 2, 5 and 8; mathematics targets, four year plan, Skovision report; early years evaluation – teacher assessment (K) fall assessment and excerpts from the report of Fred Jerred, Athletic Director, from events prior to shut down. Grades 1, 2 and 3 reading data, reading targets data for grades 4-8 and provincial drama results were not available this year due to COVID-19 interruptions; however, a new measurement tool will be implemented in the current school year for grades 1-3 reading data with the anticipation of data being available depending on education delivery throughout the school year.
At the conclusion of 2019-20, in secondary marks, core indicators, SECPSD was above the provincial average in 95% of subjects for all students, falling just slightly below in Math: Pre-calculus 20, and above the provincial average in 78.6% subjects for self-declared FNMI students for the same time period. A seven-page graph displaying Skovision Indicators data teacher assessments of outcomes conducted over the course of the academic year was presented. Data portrayed 175 green markers, 37 yellow markers and 0 red markers that were triggered in accordance with criteria achieved for grades 1-9 and 10-12. Although badminton, basketball, and track & field were cancelled across the division due to COVID-19, SECPSD is proud of student achievement and awards garnered in cross country, curling, golf, volleyball and wrestling. The detailed monitoring report is available here.
Phased In Approach to Extra-Curricular Activities
SECPSD's phased in cautious approach to extra-curricular activities (sports, drama, choral and band) was presented to the Board by the Director of Education. Little stated that, like other school divisions across the province, SECPSD's return to these activities since suspension in March was delayed until students and staff returned to schools safely and procedures and protocol could be established. Rollout of the plan, which is school specific, has been initiated and provides for four phases, allowing operation at the first two levels of the school division's health and safety response plan, however at levels 3 and 4 extra curricular will not be offered. All activities will require staff supervision, with the recognition and support that they are voluntary activities on behalf of the teaching and school staff. Phase one has been initiated and movement to other phases will be determined at the system level.
Plan guidelines are being fine-tuned to be reviewed by the local medial health officer and his team to ensure they are within the provincial guidelines. Once they have been reviewed and they are deemed to be acceptable and safe for all, the school division is ready to move immediately to phase 2A which is within the school, within your own cohort, with 2B being cohorts against cohorts within the school. Phase 3 moves to inter-school play within the division and phase 4 would permit competition against teams from other jurisdictions. The sports plan is being reviewed in terms of meeting requirements of Re-Open Saskatchewan, all of the sports governing bodies, and the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association. It was noted that the arts portion of the plan is more challenging to set in that there are no established governing bodies. The Director explained that SECPSD's plan will continue to fit within provincial recommendations and "when everything is deemed safe we will move forward, and if the situation changes in a community or our system we'll pull back and fluctuate with what is safe for our staff and students." It is anticipated that phases 1 and 2A will happen simultaneously in the very near future.
South East Cornerstone Teachers' Association (SECTA) President's Report
Whitney Paul, newly elected SECTA President, who assumed her role on July 1, 2020, was welcomed to the board table. Paul said she was grateful for the four years she served in the Vice-President capacity and introduced herself in terms of well-established connections in the division, both as a student and now an educator, as well as her academic achievements and Saskatchewan roots, saying she is honoured to represent the teachers of SECPSD. City of Estevan representative Jim Vermeersch stated he was very encouraged by her statement that it's about building relationships, which Paul had said has been her focus.
The President expressed appreciation for the 50/50 split between teaching time and release time to fulfill her SECTA duties as well as precautions taken by the school division in making the safety of staff and students top priority. Given the "new normal" she spoke of the challenges faced by staff in terms of stress level, anxiety, worry and concern and the impact and toll on daily lives. She reported that staff entered a new age of digital learning, held the teachers' convention in a virtual format, and faced many changes with the unusual school start up with, for example, extra safety precautions, shifting class schedules, supporting families and adjusting to the different scenarios faced across communities, resulting in staff exhaustion due to the drastic shift from usual practice. She emphasized her concern for teacher health and wellness which she said, "is coming at a cost and I am seeing this more and more every day," while expressing appreciation to the division for the items that have been taken off of plates at the school level. She said she is "so glad to be back teaching face-to-face" and that communication and being there for one another are key in constantly adapting to the changing world and being prepared should teachers have to switch from face-to-face learning once again.
Trombley responded, "We absolutely feel your pain. We know how stressful it has been." Further she stated that while attending school community council meetings via Teams, she has been so pleased with the positive attitude she is hearing from the teachers and that she feels they are making the best of the worst situation. "They are focusing on doing what's best for kids and that is very rewarding to hear, she stated."
The Director of Education's office processed 104 requests for the period October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 for student transfers to schools inside the system and seven students who were released to attend school divisions outside of SECPSD. The Director stated that the majority of transfer requests are received in May, June and August. The report did not encompass transfers facilitated to Cyber Stone Virtual School and home school due to ramifications of the pandemic.
Annual School Community Council Workshop
The Director of Education explained that each year the division hosts three School Community Council (SCC) regional forums; however, this year the format is uncertain. The school division will be reaching out directly to SCC members through a ThoughtExchange survey to ascertain procedural preference and what would best meet their needs, after which logistics will be established and relayed to the Board.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Board News Briefs, Enrolment, New Board Members, Phasing In, Saying Goodbye, SECTA President, System Goal 2 and Viable Schools.
Upcoming Board Meetings
11.04.20, Board Strategic Planning Meeting
11.13.20, New Board Member Orientation
11.18.20, Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting, Regular (Public) Board Meeting and Organizational Meeting of the Board
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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,