Notes from the December 16, 2020 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division Board of Education
A short agenda was established for the second public meeting of the new Board of Education which was held on Wednesday, December 16 with two board members and administration attending from the head office in Weyburn and the remaining participants joining online via WebEx.
During round table Jim Henderson, representing Subdivision 3 - Redvers, Alida, Gainsborough, Carnduff and Carievale, stated his pleasure in how smoothly the online school community councils' forum ran on December 1, taking into consideration the large number of participants. The 1.5 hour event, normally held face-to-face over three evenings in the division's three service areas, was held via Microsoft Teams with 109 individuals consisting of school community council members, board members, school superintendents and presenters joining in from across the school division.
Information Systems Report
Manager of Information Systems (I.S.) Brian Belinsky remoted into the board room via WebEx thanking the board for the opportunity to provide them a business systems presentation. He reported that the I.S. department has a team of 12 individuals fulfilling several roles: network analyst (2), system analyst (1), programmer analyst (2) and seven area technicians with two in each of the three service areas and one servicing the division office. A detailed breakdown of staff responsibilities was presented.
Belinsky explained that the department focuses on security, network, application, hardware and data management, communication, school supports and connectivity. In terms of security, the division looks at monitoring four major systems: network, email, computer and VoIP. Although he gave a more specific security presentation to the Board last year, the manager gave a brief explanation of current security applications run within the I.S. department to ensure malicious attacks and threats are mitigated as much as possible, such as Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics, DarkTrace, ThreatStop, Cloud App Security and iboss. Projects for 2020-21 include security, data centre, unified communications upgrade and school technology upgrades.
A chart depicting school connectivity from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps was provided. Belinsky explained that due to geography, infrastructure and costs to support a greater connection speed, Lyndale School in Oungre, the school with the least connectivity, is up for assessment. The Ministry of Education and the school division are looking into solutions to hopefully increase the connectivity from 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps. The school with the highest connectivity is Estevan Comprehensive School which is an anomaly due to being provisioned as a second headend. Otherwise, connectivity is based on a formula in accordance with school population and grade level delivery.
Schools receiving a technology upgrade this school year are Assiniboia Park Elementary School in Weyburn, Carnduff Education Complex, Manor School, Midale Central School and Pleasantdale School in Estevan. With respect to Legacy Park Elementary School (LPES) which will open in Weyburn in September 2021, the I.S. team is working with the division's Instructional Technology team, school administrators for Haig, Queen Elizabeth and Souris, the area superintendent and the Superintendent of Education to develop a technology plan for the new school. With the three schools that will amalgamate into LPES currently in their technology upgrade year, new equipment will be deployed directly to the new school.
Belinsky's team have developed a five to seven-year hardware plan for upgrading datacentre requirements and will issue an RFP at the end of 2020 as the datacentre support contract is due to end on March 31, 2021. The division will be seeking a five-year contract that is extendable for two additional years at the discretion of SECPSD.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 987 legacy laptops were given out to support student learning at home. To support extended learning during the present school year the division purchased an additional 195 student laptops and 25 iPads. As well, 74 laptops have been reimaged and distributed to support Cyber Stone Virtual School students. The division has approximately 788 legacy devices that can be provisioned to support distance learning needs across the system.
Quarterly Financial Report
The Quarterly Finance Report was presented by Marilyn Yurkiw, Manager of Finance, who also joined the meeting via WebEx. The report presented was reflective of revenue and expenses received and incurred up to November 30, 2020. The Statement of Operations indicates that revenue of $28,696,538 was received up to November 30, 2020, while expenses incurred up to this period of time were $27,148,785. The year to date expenses are 24.33% of the budgeted expenses which indicates we are on track financially. The projection includes variances from budget in both grants and tuition revenue. These represent the grant funding approved to date to support the additional costs of the COVID-19 requirements, along with the reduced enrolment levels in the tuition paying students. The projection for expenses shows the increased costs for the COVID-19 requirements that were submitted and approved in the first application for contingency funding. Those amounts show the expenses being higher than budget by $3,022,308. A second application for contingency funding has been made after November 30 and these figures will be changed as we proceed through the year.
Director of Education Lynn Little shared that some school divisions have moved to remote delivery this week and in some cases the week following the break due to many of those systems being challenged operationally with the number of remote classrooms they were having, the number of students that were working from home, the number of staff and in many cases providing substitutes, both teachers and EAs, bus drivers, etcetera back into those schools. Little stated, "Because we have been fortunate with smaller impact of cases we are not in that situation so at the present time it is our plan and intension to remain status quo in terms of our delivery in South East Cornerstone upon our return from the break on January 4. All measures that are in effect now will be in effect on January 4 unless there are further directions or recommendations from the province to upgrade or change." Unless there are changes over the break with direction from the province, SECPSD will continue to rely upon the division's Health & Safety Response Plan and will respond to each situation independently. Little stated, "We've been very fortunate and are certainly grateful to our staff and our families for working with us on all the procedures and processes that have been put in place." She added, "We are looking forward to continuing face-to-face delivery."
Little announced that the Board of Education and Senior Leadership Team will be starting a learning journey with the online "4 Seasons of Reconciliation" course on Indigenous Awareness Training for the workplace. They will complete the training by March 3 after which discussion sessions will be held. The training will be then be rolled out across the system for completion by all staff within the next couple of years. The course "is a series of online resources which promote a renewed relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians, through transformative and engaging learning towards anti-racism education. The initiative assists the workplace and education organizations to provide diversity and inclusion awareness through self-paced online courses featuring award-winning films, slideshows, videos, quizzes and a completion certificate provided by First Nations University of Canada." Source: www.reconciliationeducation.ca
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Board News Briefs, Financial Report, Information Systems
|Board Chairs & Directors Conference Call|
|01.20.21||Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting|
|01.20.21||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