First PRSD meeting of 2019 provides review
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.
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.
Beyond Wall Outreach School Principal Tim Bloomfield addresses the Prairie Rose School Division meeting Jan. 8.