First PRSD meet­ing of 2019 pro­vides re­view

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY JAMIE RIEGER — jrieger@prairiepos­

It was a full agenda at the Prairie Rose School Divi­sion trustee meet­ing on Jan. 8, with re­ports and pre­sen­ta­tions be­ing shared with the board over the course of the meet­ing. Be­low are high­lights from the meet­ing:

Be­yond Walls Out­reach School

Prin­ci­pal Tim Bloom­field gave an over­view of the school that caters to stu­dents who re­quire some flex­i­bil­ity in their learn­ing, with much of the study be­ing done through dis­tance learn­ing.

Be­yond Walls Out­reach School, lo­cated in Medicine Hat has over 300 stu­dents with 1.8 full-time teach­ers and two ad­min­is­tra­tive staff mem­bers.

While most schools op­er­ate on a set sched­ule through­out the year, Be­yond Walls runs con­tin­u­ously through­out the year as it ac­com­mo­dates stu­dents who need flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing.

They ac­cept all types of stu­dents and will work with the stu­dent in over­com­ing any ob­sta­cles they are fac­ing.

“We don’t turn kids away. When a prob­lem comes up, we try to solve it, whether it’s bus tick­ets, meals, or re­la­tion­ship-build­ing,” said Bloom­field, adding staff is avail­able to as­sist with help with course ma­te­rial.

“They can come in and get help when­ever they want,” he said.

On Wed­nes­day evenings, the school holds math tu­tor­ing, led by a math teacher from Ea­gle Butte High School.

Along with cour­ses in the core sub­jects, Be­yond Walls also of­fers cour­ses in Foren­sic Sci­ence, First Aid, Driver’s Train­ing, and Psy­chol­ogy. They also of­fer diploma exam writ­ing ses­sions.

Bloom­field also noted 90 per­cent of the Be­yond Walls stu­dents pre­fer print to on­line stud­ies wher­ever pos­si­ble. Course study such as Bi­ol­ogy lab, how­ever, must be done on­line.

Be­yond Walls also as­sists other schools in the divi­sion with al­ter­na­tive pro­gram­ming, aca­demics, where there may be med­i­cal is­sues, and sched­ul­ing; any­thing that re­quires flex­i­bil­ity.

Their fo­cus for the 2018-19 school year is on as­sess­ments and Ru­ral Fu­tures In­sti­tutes.

War­ren Peers School up­date

Prin­ci­pal Rob Willis pro­vided on his school’s ac­tiv­i­ties via video­con­fer­enc­ing. Willis started with a brief his­tory of the school, in­clud­ing how en­rol­ment num­bers have dwin­dled over the years.

In the late 1950’s, the school had 150160 stu­dents en­rolled.

This year, that num­ber sits at 55 stu­dents for Grades 1-9.

Willis said chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics over the years, has been chal­leng­ing and some­thing they con­tinue to con­tend with.

“It used to be our stu­dents were from fam­ily farms. Now, they are chil­dren of farm labour­ers, chil­dren of busi­ness own­ers, they come from all walks of life, not just from the fam­ily farm any more,” said Willis.

Willis at­trib­uted the higher re­sults on their re­cent achieve­ment tests from the pre­vi­ous year to the school’s fo­cus on lit­er­acy.

When dis­cussing their ac­count­abil­ity pil­lar, Willis said one ques­tion where par­ents and teach­ers were asked about work pre­pared­ness, showed very low re­sults.

“We dis­cov­ered that putting “Don’t know” will ac­tu­ally re­sult in a neg­a­tive re­sponse,” he ex­plained.

Every morn­ing when they ar­rive at school, the stu­dents are greeted by the prin­ci­pal.

“Some of them travel a long way to get to school, so we greet them every day,” he said.

Also, be­fore set­tling into the class­room for the day, staff and stu­dents spend a few min­utes walk­ing for about 1.5 kilo­me­tres.

“I know the stu­dents in my Sci­ence class fo­cus bet­ter after the walk,” he said.

Small class sizes and a small ded­i­cated, ex­pe­ri­enced staff are ben­e­fits for the school

Willis ad­dressed some of the chal­lenges they face at War­ren Peers.

“We have ar­chaic cur­ricu­lum when it comes to Sci­ence.

It’s funny when you’re teach­ing Sci­ence and you see how much Sci­ence has changed com­pared to the cur­ricu­lum we are work­ing with,” he ex­plained.

Like most ru­ral schools, fund­ing is an on­go­ing con­cern.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to main­tain the ru­ral ad­van­tage with­out fund­ing. Hope­fully, we can see an in­crease in fund­ing in the fu­ture. The money does help,” he said.

Ju­ris­dic­tion re­port, Kal Koch, deputy su­per­in­ten­dent

The av­er­age class size at Prairie Rose schools is in line with their in­struc­tional dol­lars, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent ju­ris­dic­tion re­port, that was pre­sented by deputy su­per­in­ten­dent Kal Koch at the Jan. 8 trustee meet­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the av­er­age class size for Kinder­garten to Grade 3 is 16.6 stu­dents, 18.9 stu­dents for Grades 4-6, 18.2 stu­dents for Grades 7-9, and 19 stu­dents for Grades 10-12.

“We are show­ing very pos­i­tive re­sults in all ar­eas. It shows our in­struc­tional dol­lars are go­ing where they are sup­posed to go,” said Koch.

Core and non-core classes were eval­u­ated for the sur­vey. Al­berta Ed­u­ca­tion re­quires school boards to sub­mit class size re­ports.

Main­te­nance re­port

Dar­rell Drefs, di­rec­tor of main­te­nance op­er­a­tions pro­vided trus­tees with a sum­mary of ac­tiv­i­ties from the 2017-18 school year for his de­part­ment.

Over the course of the school year, work­ers in the main­te­nance de­part­ment com­pleted more than 2,000 work orders and along with those daily work orders, com­pleted a num­ber of pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance, in­clud­ing fire alarm test­ing, fire sup­pres­sion sys­tem test­ing, back flow test­ing, play­ground in­spec­tions, roof in­spec­tions, among oth­ers.

Some of their IMR (In­fra­struc­ture Main­te­nance and Re­newal) projects in­cluded air con­di­tion­ing units added to class­rooms at South Cen­tral High School in Oyen, re-roof­ing at Seven Per­sons, and gym light­ing up­grades at Fore­most, Ral­ston, Park­side, and Seven Per­sons.

• Up­com­ing IMR projects in­clude: -Re-roof­ing ar­eas at Ral­ston School: $300,000;

-Air con­di­tion­ing and re­place­ment of two class­room fur­naces at Jen­ner: $30,000;

-Re­place air-han­dling units at Mar­garet Wood­ing School: $200,000;

-Up­grade fire alarm panel at Irvine School: $150,000;

-Fur­nace re­place­ment at Fore­most School: $20,000;

-En­gi­neer to be hired to de­sign an air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem for south wing at Park­side: Cost to be de­ter­mined.

Me­moran­dum of Agree­ment

In a late ad­di­tion to the agenda, trus­tees voted in favour of ap­prov­ing a Me­moran­dum of Agree­ment for ATA Lo­cal Bar­gain­ing be­tween PRSD No. 8 and the Al­berta Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Kal Koch, PRSD deputy su­per­in­ten­dent told trus­tees and man­age­ment that class size have re­mained rel­a­tively con­stant.

Pho­tos by Jamie Rieger

Be­yond Wall Out­reach School Prin­ci­pal Tim Bloom­field ad­dresses the Prairie Rose School Divi­sion meet­ing Jan. 8.

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