Board meeting highlights - December 17, 2020

Board meeting highlights - December 17, 2020

Board seeks input from school communities regarding wrap-around services
The Peace River School Division (PRSD) board of trustees approved the final version of a survey that will be issued to students, staff and parents regarding wrap-around supports in PRSD schools and communities.  Wrap-around services include areas such as support for physical and learning disabilities, mental health and addiction. The board is eager to hear from students, parents and staff to learn about their experiences and knowledge of supports and services in PRSD schools and communities. The board has been actively working on a wrap-around services advocacy and engagement plan since February of 2019 but was put on hold due to the pandemic. To date, the board has engaged in conversations with elected municipal officials, local Members of the Legislative Assembly and PRSD School Council members regarding the need for increased service, support, and government funding in these areas.  The board is passionate to advocate on behalf of PRSD students, families and communities to enhance the supports available for students and families. The survey will be made available online in early February and the survey data will be reviewed by the board at the March 2021 regular board meeting. The data received from the survey will provide important information for the board to move forward with advocacy efforts.

Board meets with Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace-Notley
Following their regular board meeting, trustees met with Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace-Notley. Agenda topics included wrap-around services and supports in PRSD schools and communities, the boards’ advocacy and engagement plan and student enrolment in PRSD. Trustees value the time spent with local elected officials and extends gratitude to MLA Loewen for his support and involvement in education.

Trustees approve Board Evaluation Report
The board reviewed and approved the 2019-2020 Board Self Evaluation report which contains an evaluation of the board’s operation over the past year and areas of emphasis for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.  The conclusion of the evaluation as conducted by Alberta School Boards Association Consultant Terry Gunderson indicates that the board has met or exceeded areas of emphasis during the evaluation period, that the board functioned as a cohesive team and readily made necessary operational adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Areas of Emphasis for the 2020-2021 school year include: (1) Develop a better communication process amongst board members and with the Superintendent; (2) Explore further additional outreaches to the Mennonite and Home Education student communities; (3) Maintain the diversities in educational programming that have been established during the COVID-19 pandemic and explore further diversification options; (4) Explore additional opportunities for board development; (5) Continue to move forward with the wrap-around services advocacy plan.

Board approves Superintendent Evaluation Report
Trustees reviewed and approved Paul Bennett, Superintendent of School’s evaluation report for the period of February 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020. Concluding statements recorded in the evaluation process as expressed by the board of trustees include; (1) Paul has provided exceptional leadership over the evaluation period especially given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) Paul’s commitment to putting students first has again been evident through this past evaluation term. Student success and wellness are key priorities and areas of personal emphasis; (3) Paul’s leadership will leave PRSD in a very strong position moving forward in the transition to the next Superintendent. Paul should take great pride in his efforts and achievements; (4) Paul’s leadership style has been firm yet compassionate; and (5) The board commends Paul for effectively meeting or exceeding all quality indicators. The evaluation was conducted by the board under the guidance and assistance of ASBA Consultant Terry Gunderson. Bennett announced his retirement from the division earlier this year and is set to retire on August 31, 2021.

Board approves tenders for lighting upgrades in three PRSD schools
Trustees approved a tender for energy efficient lighting upgrades at Fairview High School (FHS). Wild Electric will complete the upgrades at FHS for a total of $156,000.00. Funding for the upgrades comes from one-time capital project funding provided by the Alberta Government. On May 21, 2020 the Alberta Government announced that school divisions would be allocated one-time funding for capital projects on school buildings as a means to create jobs and boost the Alberta economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Projects in the one-time capital funding includes:  the replacement of concrete sidewalks, curbs, gutters and the resurfacing of parking lots and bus loops at E.E Oliver Elementary School and Fairview High School; the replacement of TA Norris Middle School’s heating system; and the paving of the parking lot at Worsley Central School.

Departmental Presentation – Transportation  
David Rushton, PRSD’s Transportation Manager and Crystal Gordey, PRSD’s Assistant Transportation Manager provided the board with the annual Transportation Department update. The PRSD Transportation Department transports approximately 2900 students on 71 bus routes travelling an average of 10,813 km per day. PRSD’s Transportation Department employs approximately 95 staff members which includes regular and spare School Bus Drivers, Technicians, School Bus Driver Trainers, Administrative Staff, a Route Planner, Assistant Transportation Manager, Transportation Manager, and Director of Support Services. Rushton and Gordey also provided information on the impact of the pandemic such as increased cancellations due to insufficient staffing and increased staff illness, increased cleaning supply costs and restrictions such a no eating on the bus, mask use for drivers and grades 4-12 and the cancellation of field trips, bus notes and interschool busing. Highlights and initiatives from the department include the future move of the transportation department to central operations in Grimshaw (expected the summer of 2021), the “Bus Planner Website” portal, cross-training among staff, and school bus driver recruitment. Gordey and Rushton commended school bus drivers for their dedication and resilience during these challenging times.

Policy Work
The board approved a technical amendment to Policy 7 Appendix A By-Law 1-95 “Being a By-Law to Amend the Ward Boundaries.

Merry Christmas from the PRSD board of trustees
The PRSD board of trustees extends warm wishes to students, parents, staff, and community members for a relaxing, joy filled holiday. Thank you for your support in providing our students with the best educational experiences possible and making our schools the great places they are to learn, grow, work and be. We look forward to working together and sharing in the opportunities of the coming year. Happy Holidays and all the best in 2021.