Notes from the January 20, 2021 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education
Several exciting announcements were made during the regular public board meeting of the SECPSD Board of Education held in Weyburn on Wednesday, January 20.
- On March 1 Arlene Dobson, current principal of Haig School, will assume the principalship of the new Legacy Park Elementary School which will open in Weyburn this fall. In announcing the appointment, Deputy Director of Education Keith Keating said, "We're really excited to welcome Arlene to the new position and I look forward to all the leadership she will provide to students and staff as they transition the three elementary schools (Haig, Souris and Queen Elizabeth) that are closing, into the new LPES. "A plan will be put in place to ensure a smooth transition to her new role.
- A significant increase in home school enrolments resulting from COVID-19 this school year highlighted the requirement for more support than normal years. Thus, Maryanne Kotylak, former principal of Souris School, was appointed and has already commenced her role as administrator for home school to liaise the home school families, help them access supports at the division level that may benefit the students (i.e. speech language pathologist, assessments) and help parents determine where their children are at in their education. Keating stated, "We are looking forward to all the supports and processes that she will build and put in place to help support our home school families." Michael Graham, Coordinator of Curriculum, is assisting in the transition of home school duties from his portfolio to Kotylak's. Jodi Abel who has been acting principal at Souris for a time has now assumed the principalship at Souris.
- Aaron Hiske, Superintendent of Education, was pleased to announce that band and choir will get underway again with February 1 being the hard target date for the restart of programming. He said SECPSD will work within provincial guidelines, for example, ensuring a maximum class size of 30, no mixing of cohorts and masking when not playing. Hiske, who originally joined the school division as a band instructor, stated the restart is a welcome return and although it will look different than prior to the pandemic, "it is a step in the right direction."
- Director of Education Lynn Little announced that SECPSD is putting plans in place to commence a French Immersion program at Assiniboia Park Elementary School in Weyburn and Pleasantdale School in Estevan commencing with grades K, 1 and 2 with a view to add a grade level each year thereafter. She explained that the program will assist students in understanding and appreciating Francophone culture which is a large part of our Canadian identity. Although the division already offers French Immersion programming, it is only in Grades 9-12 at Estevan Comprehensive School. Exploratory work that commenced in 2019-2020 was delayed on account of the pandemic. However, the initial work signaled sufficient interest in pursuing the possibility of offering a public immersion program in the two cities with implementation now slated for the 2021-2022 school year. Both selected schools will offer a dual track program (English and French). Little stated that attendance boundaries do not apply to the French Immersion program. A French Language Consultant has been hired and registrations will open on January 22. On-line parent engagement sessions will be held to provide more information and an opportunity for a Q and A period. Interested families should contact the school administration in their area: Dan Manning @ Assiniboia Park Elementary School at 306-842-2414 or Michelle Smart @ Pleasantdale School at 306-634-4210. View the full PowerPoint presentation here.
Board Professional Development
During round table comments, board members reported that they have been participating in online professional development modules offered by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association for school division trustees, for example, Attributes of High Performing Boards and Communication and Advocacy Planning for Boards, which have been very much enjoyed. As well, some board members have already completed the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation certification course that is being rolled out to all staff and board members. The Board will complete the study by March, after which time they will together review and discuss course content.
Bi-Annual Transportation Report
Andy Dobson, Manager of Facilities & Transportation brought the first portion of a bi-annual transportation report to the Board with the second report to follow in June. His update focused on fleet and staffing information, and transportation performance indicators. He stated that three distinct sectors have been identified: 1. caretaking, to which a safety portfolio has been added, 2. operations/maintenance and 3. transportation. The division has three transportation shops with the new Weyburn shop now completed. He said it is the exact same footprint size as the one in Estevan; however, the latter is likely 2/3 transportation and 1/3 facilities. The division also has a smaller shared facilities/transportation shop in Moosomin. Within the division there are 112 bus routes plus an additional 42 routes contracted with First Student based out of Carlyle. The total number of students transported from September to December 2020 was 3,361 compared to January 2020 when 4,158 students were transported. Dobson attributed the drop in ridership to students being home schooled or taking online learning. With several older bus drivers retiring on account of COVID-19, the division is ramping up bus driver recruitment, notably through shoulder tapping. Dobson explained that if a bus driver successfully recruits another driver who drives for SECPSD for six months, the recruiter will be awarded a $500 bonus.
Last week's windstorm caused substantial damage to a couple of schools, Dobson reported. Namely, 2/3 of the roof was torn off the Gladmar Regional School and will result in a total roof rebuild. He expressed appreciation for the work of the school community council and the community of Gladmar in coming together over the weekend and cleaning up the insulation that was strewn all over the school playground and up against the hedges. The roof was assessed by the division's roofing contractor, RMIS, who indicated that the second layer of the roof remained intact. Thus, students and staff can safely be in the building at this time. The other location that sustained major roof damage, but not as noticeable, is at Weyburn Comprehensive at the Cugnet Centre. As far as timelines for repair, when a contractor can be secured it will take a couple of months to get new roofs on. Dobson noted that the storm was province-wide and therefore roofing contractors will be in demand and these two major roofing replacement projects will each cost an estimated $750,000 to $1 million.
Student Services Report
Cheryl Anderson, Coordinator of Student Services, and Tracey Kiliwnik, Coordinator of Learning Supports, shared a one-hour presentation focusing on an overview of SECPSD's Response to Intervention (RtI) model, supplemental learning updates and student services support data with the Board.
Kiliwnik explained that everything that is done within the schools in student services within learning supports is based on the division's Response to Intervention model which is broken into three strategic areas: About 80% of students will be successful at learning at the Tier 1 level of intervention in the classroom, 15% of students require some Tier 2 interventions or targeted supports mainly in the areas of reading, math and behaviour, and 5% of students will require intensive Tier 3 supports. As well, intensive needs students will require IIPs and behavioural students will require behaviour plans. She stated, "We often define our RtI model as a three-legged stool which has universal screens for assessment, our tiers for intervention and our problem-solving process." Tier 1 supports are provided by classroom teachers, Tier 2 by RtI coaches and Tier 3 by learning support teachers. In addition, the division has a student success process implemented in each school to ensure students are staying on track in academics, behaviour, and attendance.
Anderson added that the key for success in RtI is the identification of each student's learning needs. Implementation of the responsive school goals then leads to a methodical engagement of professional support staff and the inter-professional support team to collaboratively support student achievement along with the alignment of support staff roles to effectively meet the needs of all students.
A chart depicting English as an Additional Language (EAL) historical enrollment data was provided showing an average of 416 students over nine years, with this year being the third highest enrollment at 488 and the highest enrolment at 523 in 2019-2020. Anderson stated that when new EAL students come into the division they all complete an initial assessment which looks at the Common Framework of Reference (CFR) that covers four areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Once students successfully complete six EAL levels they should be proficient in class without additional supports. New this year is that a few schools are engaged in an EAL drop in tutorial provided by EAL Consultant Liz Rowley where she assists students with classes, homework, and English language development. Fourteen students participated in tutorial which was accessed 48 times (student initiated) and 28 times (teacher initiated). This gathering of data on skills being worked on will help staff ascertain where support can be provided to better support teachers and students.
Both coordinators were pleased with the variety and quantity of work that staff carried out during supplemental learning from March to June 2020. Examples: Learning supports teachers: collaborated with LSTs across the division and continued with Intensive Tier 3 literacy with small groups; RtI coaches: developed online resources for literacy and started a RtI professional learning community; educational psychologists: completed reports and family/school meetings via MS Teams and developed home activity resources; Jordan's Principle coordinator: arranged visits when possible, utilizing PPE, and carried out daily/weekly check ins with families by phone calls or texts.
Working with community partners, from January to December 2020 SECPSD made 13 of 16 referrals that were submitted to the South East Regional Hub. From September 2019 to March 2020 SECPSD counsellors combined had 1,003 students on case load, or approximately 61 per counsellor monthly.
Data provided regarding Review 360, a comprehensive web-based behaviour management system utilized in SECPSD, resulted in 8,903 incidents in 2018-2019 compared to 6,006 in 2019-2020. The division's occupational therapists (OT) conducted 23 assessments in 2019-2020 compared to 35 in 2019-2020. Kiliwnik explained that the OTs were able to participate in a lot more meetings, covering 39 schools, because they weren't travelling this year. The full student services report is available here.
SECPSD Annual Report
The Director of Education informed the Board that annual reports for all Saskatchewan school divisions were tabled in the legislative assembly just prior to Christmas and that SECPSD will be featuring highlights of the division's report in the coming weeks and months via its various social media platforms. Features will focus on: MathUp, Mathletics, community partnerships, Girls Who Game, digital library, Core5, early learning virtual visits and programs, EAL graduation success, nutrition projects, school community councils' plans and activities as well as myBlueprint. The report is available here.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Band and Choir, French Immersion, Student Services, Transportation.
January 21 & 28 Board Chairs & Directors Meeting
February 10 Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting and 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