Board hears District Infrastructure Strategy to address student population growth and aging buildings

At its regularly scheduled meeting on December 3, the Edmonton Public Schools Board of Trustees were presented with the District’s Infrastructure Strategy, which addresses the issue of growing neighbourhoods and includes the District Accommodation Plan for New and Developing Neighbourhoods. Its purpose is to look at which schools are full or almost full and offer some options to solve the problem.

“Our schools are doing amazing work to help students succeed. I’m incredibly proud of how our schools are maximizing every dollar to ensure students reach their potential,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “Having said that, the District continues to be challenged by ever tightening budgets and overcrowding in new and developing neighbourhoods. Both issues need solutions.”

Board Chair Hoffman encourages the public to fill out an online survey found on the Space for Our Students site, which gives an overview of the plan and includes background information; the schools and neighbourhoods being looked at in the accommodation plan; and a list of options being considered. Stakeholders can find the school or area where they live and provide input and feedback on the options that have been developed, as well as suggestions. The survey will be open until January 17, 2014.

“We’re committed to ensuring every student attends school in a high quality learning environment,” adds Hoffman. “We’re working closely with parents and community members on options for these growing areas of the city.”

The Board also unanimously approved the recommendation for the Edmonton Public Schools’ Combined Three Year Education Plan and Annual Education Results Report, which the District will now submit to Alberta Education. Board Chair Hoffman acknowledged and commended the administration for their work on the report and plan.

Board selects Chair, Vice-Chair and agrees in principle to agreement with Edmonton Public Teachers Local No. 37

At yesterday’s organizational board meeting, the Board of Trustees elected Trustee Sarah Hoffman as Board Chair and Trustee Michael Janz as Vice-Chair for the 2013-2014 school year.

“It’s an honour to continue serving my colleagues as Board Chair,” says Hoffman. “I look forward to working closely with my fellow Trustees and the Superintendent of Schools over the coming year.”

After the public board meeting had adjourned, Trustees held their first caucus meeting to discuss a memorandum of agreement with the Edmonton Public Teachers Local No. 37.

At the caucus meeting, Trustees agreed in principle with the memorandum. Trustees also authorized the Superintendent to act out of caucus in moving forward with the agreement. Trustees will vote on ratification of the agreement at their next public board meeting on November 26.

Edmonton Public Schools releases student achievement results

Building pathways to success
Edmonton Public Schools releases student achievement results

The District’s student achievement results for the 2012-2013 school year show progress in a number of key areas and that trend is expected to continue.

The Accountability Pillar, which is used by the Province to monitor all school jurisdiction’s performance, shows Edmonton Public Schools made significant improvement in achieving the acceptable standard and standard of excellence on diploma exams, receiving an overall rating of good and excellent on these measures, respectively. The District also maintained its rating of excellence in educational quality, program of studies, citizenship, school improvement and creating safe and caring learning environments.

“These results tell us we’re moving in the right direction, providing students with a great education that’s helping them experience success,” says Sarah Hoffman, Board Chair. “We have incredibly dedicated teachers and staff across our District doing an outstanding job in nurturing the potential of our students, and our Board couldn’t be prouder of that.”

Edmonton Public Schools continues to see growth in its five year high school completion rate. From 2007-2008 to 2011-2012, the District saw a 2.8 per cent increase in this rate, rising from 73.7 per cent to 76.5 per cent. High school students showed strong results this year on diploma exams, slightly exceeding the Province at the standard of excellence in all science subjects, while results at the acceptable standard and standard of excellence in English, social studies and math declined. In comparison to the Province, students in Grades 3, 6 and 9 did well in achieving the acceptable standard and standard of excellence on provincial achievement tests.

“In order to sustain these positive results, we know our District’s focus has to be on ensuring all students have access to high quality learning environments, fantastic teachers, and a diverse range of interventions and supports,” says Darrel Robertson, Superintendent of Schools. “Improving outcomes for kids is a shared vision among staff, parents and our communities, and together, I’m confident we’ll continue to offer the strategies and solutions that will help them succeed.”

For complete achievement result reports, click here.

Board wraps up business for term

Yesterday, the Board of Trustees held the last meeting of its three year term of office, debating and approving a number of important policies.

“It was a nice feeling to wrap up much of the work we undertook as a Board at our final meeting,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “Over the past three years, Trustees were committed to completing a number of key initiatives and we made great progress on this front.”

The Board passed policies in a number of areas:

  • Infrastructure Planning Principles;
  • Student Suspension and Expulsion;
  • Student Programs of Study; and
  • Delivery of Student Programs of Study.

The policies approved at the board meeting reflect the Board’s commitment to conduct a comprehensive review of board policy during its term. As part of the policy development and review process, several redundant policies were identified and rescinded.

“This effort will streamline board policy, which was one of the goals our Board set for itself,” says Hoffman. “We are proud of this work and we feel it will help set the new Board up for success in many ways.”

Trustees approve student representative for Board

At yesterday’s regularly scheduled board meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a recommendation to include a student representative in public board meetings for the 2014-2015 school year.

“This is an exciting step for our Board and yet another example of how Trustees are working to better meet the needs of our students,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman.

One key feature of the recommendation is that the student representative will be elected by his or her fellow students. Trustees have asked the Administration to develop a suitable election process for the current school year so that a student representative is in place for the next school year.

The student representative will not have the right to vote and will not attend in camera meetings where Trustees discuss confidential issues in the areas of land, labour and law.

The representative will take part in public board meetings and will have the right to ask questions and participate in debate.

“Students are at the heart of everything we do as a Board and we look forward to hearing the student perspective at each board meeting,” says Hoffman. “It’s also a great way to involve our students in the democratic process and ensure the Board makes the best possible decisions.”

Planned long-term lease increases cancelled

Beginning today, letters are being sent out to Edmonton Public Schools’ leasees informing them the planned six year rate structure for tenants leasing space in the District will not proceed.

“We heard loud and clear from many of our tenants that the proposed lease increases previously announced would cause them difficulty in providing their programs or services in our schools,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “The Board of Trustees and the Administration want to work with these partners to find a solution that is appropriate and affordable for everyone.”

Starting in September 2013, the District will implement the initial $1.00 per m2 increase for Year One as planned. Over the 2013-2014 school year, staff will consult with leaseholders. Any further increases will consider stakeholder feedback and will not be determined until after this consultation takes place.

The District acknowledges that community groups leasing space in our schools provide valuable services to families and knows community groups will be challenged by a higher lease rate. Edmonton Public Schools is committed to finding a solution that acknowledges these contributions and also allows us to meet the financial obligations associated with leasing space.

“The provincial level of funding has created financial challenges for our District this year,” continued Chair Hoffman. “We are however, committed to working with our leaseholders to find an agreeable resolution to lease increases that best serves our students.”

Premier Alison Redford tours Strathcona School

On Monday, Premier Alison Redford toured the nearly-completed renovations at Strathcona School with the Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale, Board Chair Sarah Hoffman, Trustee Michael Janz and Superintendent Darrel Robertson. Leading the tour were Principal Hans Van Ginhoven, Facilities Services’ Managing Director John Nicoll and Senior Project Co-ordinator Al (Eelco) DeGroot. The school is nearing the end of a major modernization project which includes a refurbished gymnasium and arts wing, a renovated library and cafeteria and upgrades to electrical and plumbing systems.

Here are a few pictures from the tour:

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Principal Hans Van Ginhoven describes the renovations to Premier Alison Redford, Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale (in background), Board Chair Sarah Hoffman and Senior Project Co-ordinator Al DeGroot.

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Premier Alison Redford looks over the school’s renovation plans with Senior Project Co-ordinator Al DeGroot and Board Chair Sarah Hoffman.

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Principal Hans Van Ginhoven presents Premier Alison Redford with a Strathcona Lords scarf and hoodie.

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Premier Alison Redford fields questions from the media. Also pictured: Minister of Infrastructure Wayne Drysdale, Board Chair Sarah Hoffman, Trustee Michael Janz and Superintendent Darrel Robertson.

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Managing Director of Facilities Services John Nicoll, Trustee Michael Janz, Board Chair Sarah Hoffman and Superintendent Darrel Robertson.

Board considers new infrastructure policy

At yesterday’s special board meeting, the Board of Trustees considered for the first time a new policy on infrastructure. The proposed policy identifies seven Infrastructure Planning Principles and a set of expectations on how the District should approach infrastructure issues.

The policy was developed by the Board’s Policy Review Committee after the Board of Trustees directed it to do so through a board motion on October 23, 2012.

“This is the Board’s first draft of a new infrastructure policy for Edmonton Public Schools,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “The planning principles outlined in the policy will guide the Board and Administration in all of our future planning and decision-making regarding our infrastructure.”

Now that the Board has considered the draft policy for the first time and approved it for posting on the district website, the Board will seek input on the Infrastructure Planning Principles from stakeholders.

“Trustees look forward to hearing from students, parents and community members,” said Hoffman. “All of the feedback we gather through the survey will be considered by the Board and will help us to revise the policy prior to considering it for a second time in the fall.”

The online survey is available here on the district website from August 1 to September 2, 2013.

 

Announcement of new Superintendent of Schools

The Board of Trustees of Edmonton Public Schools will announce the new Superintendent of Schools at 5:30 p.m. today.

The announcement will be live streamed at http://www.livestream.com/edmontonpublicschools.

 

Board passes bad news budget

At yesterday’s regularly scheduled board meeting, the Board of Trustees passed the District’s budget for the 2013-2014 school year; Trustees expressed both sadness and regret as they did so.

As part of the $934 million budget, the District will lose the equivalent of 339 full time positions, including 182 teaching positions.

“This is not a good news budget,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “We are losing over 300 positions. This is devastating to our dedicated staff and we know it will impact the level of service we are able to provide our students.”

Trustees extensively questioned and debated the proposed budget at the June 11 board meeting, where they received it as an information report. Trustees further debated the budget and voted to pass it at last night’s board meeting.

“Trustees felt this was the best possible use of our limited resources,” said Hoffman. “As a District, we were planning on a two per cent increase and instead we received a three per cent decrease. Needless to say, we are very disappointed. Our Board will continue to advocate for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for public education.”