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 As part of the policy development and review process, several redundant policies were identified and rescinded.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.”

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.


Board considers revised assessment policy, potential levy

At yesterday’s regularly scheduled board meeting, the Board of Trustees considered, for the second time, a revised policy on student assessment, achievement and growth. The policy was revised by the Board’s Policy Review Committee after the policy’s first reading, based on feedback received as part of the policy review process.

“Trustees were pleased with the changes proposed by the Committee,” says Board Chair Sarah Hoffman. “The revised policy reflects the changes that were suggested by parents, students, community members and staff.”

The revised policy includes additional definitions of educational terminology, enhanced clarity regarding expectations, and greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of teachers and principals.

Feedback was gathered through an online survey, a teleconference, letters, emails and presentations at public board meetings. The Board will consider the revised policy for the third time at a future board meeting.

Trustees also approved a motion asking the Administration to prepare information and options regarding a special tax levy for debate in June.

Board votes against endorsing proposed agreement

At yesterday’s regularly scheduled board meeting, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to advise the  Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) not to endorse the proposed agreement between the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“This deal is not good for the District or our students,” said Sarah Hoffman, Board Chair. “We are being asked to approve a deal we cannot afford.”

The Board is concerned it will not be able to provide the current level of service to students and that the cost of the agreement would likely result in staff reductions.

The Board is also concerned that two committees, the Exceptions Committee and the Teacher Development and Practice Committee, could potentially erode the decision making power of locally elected school boards.

“Our main priority will always be to act in the best interest of our students – to maximize the dollars we have and to minimize any impact on their education,” continued Chair Hoffman.

The ASBA asked individual school boards to give them direction on whether or not they should endorse the proposed agreement.

The full effect of the proposed agreement on district operations is still being considered. The Board is confident the ASBA will convey its concerns to the Government. Individual boards have been asked to ratify the proposed agreement by May 13. The Board of Trustees is hopeful its concerns will be addressed in the coming weeks, so it can revisit the agreement prior to the ratification vote.

Edmonton Public Schools… In the News

Celebrating the past embracing the future 
Superintendent’s Notebook – The Edmonton Examiner, September 19, 2012

The new school year is in full swing and we couldn’t be more excited to start it off by opening two new K-9 schools – Bessie Nichols and Michael Strembitsky; and one K-9 replacement school, Major-General Griesbach. There are three very different life stories among these namesakes, yet a common thread binds them all: they each dedicated their lives toward a greater cause. Read more.


Alberta Primetime – Textbooks vs. Technology

In classrooms across Alberta, textbooks and pen-and-paper are increasingly being replaced by Smartboards and iPads. Does technology help or hinder learning? Can all Alberta families afford the trend?

Hear some interesting things about the changes from Aaron Muller, Technology Consultant with Edmonton Public Schools. Watch the video here.


Hoffman new chair of EPSB
The Edmonton Examiner, September 19, 2012

Sarah Hoffman takes over as the new chair of the Edmonton Public School Board this year. She replaces Dave Colburn, who remains on the Board as a trustee. Hoffman, 32, is familiar with the board. She has been a trustee for two years now, and last year was the vice president. Read more.


Edmonton Public Schools… In the News

Advisory board helps Journal reach out to you, the reader
The Edmonton Journal, September 13, 2012

Sandra Woitas, Executive Director of the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation was named to the Edmonton Journal’s community advisory board. Read more.


Sarah Hoffman appointed to lead Edmonton Public School Board
The Edmonton Journal, September 12, 2012

The Edmonton Public School Board has a new chairwoman. First-term trustee Sarah Hoffman was acclaimed to the position during a school board meeting Tuesday afternoon. Read more.


Radio Active 1, September 12, 2012
Elena Ciancibello, a Center High School teacher is trying to make a difference.  She felt the school was doing a good time helping students launch a career.  The school could be doing more to discuss the mental stresses of student life.  She has helped to set up a special presentation. Tomorrow at the school panelist will be discussing mental health and suicide.


News Hour Final (CITV-TV), September 12, 2012
Wade Sorochan, a local radio personality had a message for students at W.P. Wagner School today in honour of Suicide Awareness week. According to Alberta Health Services, our province has the fourth highest suicide rate in the country.


Alberta Primetime, September 11, 2012
In classrooms across alberta text books and pen and paper are increasingly being replaced by smart boards and ipads. Technology fans say it enriches learning, but some educators worry about physical and mental effects of too much screen time. Does technology help or hinder learning, and can all Alberta families afford the trend? On the panel: Aaron Muller, technology consultant with Edmonton Public Schools; Dr. Philip McRae,  Executive Staff Officer with the Alberta Teachers Association and a professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education; Verena Roberts, member of the executive at the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils, and also Learning Innovation League teacher at the Alberta Distance Learning Center.


Breakfast Television, September 10, 2012
Interview with Erin Madsen, Edmonton School of Ballet, regarding the ballet school and how it helps kids of all ages. Brief mention of their partnership with Edmonton Public Schools.


Edmonton Public Schools… In the News

Public school trustees to lead Edmonton Pride Parade
Edmonton Journal, May 25, 2012

Edmonton Public School trustees will demonstrate their “pride in education” when they lead this year’s Gay Pride Parade.

Edmonton public school board chairman Dave Colburn will represent the board as parade marshal for the event on Saturday, June 9. All trustees have been invited to join him at the head of the parade under the board’s “pride in education” theme, Colburn said. Read more.


Scona student in international ‘brain bee’
Edmonton Sun, May 24, 2012

As Old Scona Academic high school students graduated on Thursday, there was at least one student whose mind was still thoroughly focused on academics.

Sandy Xu is a Grade 12 student at Scona high school who will be competing in the fifth annual Canadian Institute of Health Researchers Canadian National Brain Bee at McMaster university in Hamilton, Ont. on Saturday. Read more.


CBC Radio Edmonton – May 24,  2012

The Edmonton Public Schools Foundation is trying to raise money to get more children into full-day kindergarten. [Ross Sheppard School]

Longtime Vic cheer coach goes out with one last win
Edmonton Journal, May 22, 2012

Victory was bittersweet when the Victoria School for the Arts’ senior co-ed cheer team beat nine other teams to win the national title in their category just over a week ago.

The accomplishment added to the long list of titles for the storied squad, but also marked the retirement after 35 years of head coach Dianne Greenough. Read more.


The marble resurgence: Flickin’ it old school
Edmonton Journal, May 21, 2012

Jumbos. Steelies. Crystals. Peewees.

At a time when more and more kids are plugged into iPods and portable gaming devices, marbles are making a comeback at some Edmonton elementary schools. Read more.


Talmud Torah alumni return to their roots
Edmonton Journal, May 21, 2012

It was more than just the average elementary school reunion.

Alumni of Talmud Torah Jewish school came from as far away as Israel to visit their former stomping grounds on its 100th anniversary over the long weekend. Many of them credited it with being the reason for their success in life. Read more.


Teacher a man of the theatre
Edmonton Journal, May 20, 2012

Raymond Browning Phipps will long be remembered for his unbridled enthusiasm for theatre and his lovely singing voice. But even those talents were upstaged by his knack for bringing out the very best in the students he taught.

When Phipps began his long career with the Edmonton Public School system in 1951, he had no way of knowing the huge supporting role he would play in the lives of students and other educators. Read more.


Program aimed at helping troubled youth
Edmonton Sun, May 18, 2012

An Edmonton school resource cop at Scona High is helping young offenders set themselves straight through hard, physical exercise.

Const. Claus Penno offers a unique program at the school called the Payoff Program — an initiative that has been set up to give kids who have committed criminal offences a second chance. Read more.


Board receives proposed budget for 2012-13

At yesterday’s public board meeting, the Board of Trustees discussed the proposed budget for 2012-13. Among the highlights of the proposed balanced budget: 

  • Funding to schools would increase.
  • There would be a significant increase in support for special needs students.
  • Increased funding would go to foster inclusive education.
  • More funds would be provided to assist First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.

“While the Board appreciates the three year funding commitment from the Province, it was a bit challenging to prepare the budget, as we can no longer rely on our operating reserve to supplement the funding we receive from the Province,” said Dave Colburn, Chair of the Edmonton Public School Board. “Despite these challenges, we are pleased to be presented with a balanced budget focused on the best educational outcomes for students.”

The final proposed budget for 2012-13 will be presented at the June 12 Board meeting, which will include an outline of projected staffing numbers.

The Board also approved the rates for transportation fees for 2012-13, which will see no increases. As a follow-up to the previous board meeting, the Board has furthered their commitment to financial literacy by submitting an official policy position proposal to the Alberta School Boards Association Zone 2/3 for consideration.

In addition, the Board received a series of reports that celebrated the District’s world renowned second languages programming (which includes course offerings in 12 languages, several of which offer international certification) and the District’s efforts to support diversity and equity.

Further information about the budget and the reports mentioned above are available here.

Board commits to early learning and financial literacy for students

At yesterday’s public board meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to continue funding support for the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation until 2015.

Since the February 2010 launch, the Foundation has raised approximately $870,000 in multi-year gifts and immediate contributions from individuals, organizations and funding agencies to support early learning programs and full-day kindergarten programming.

The current priority of the Foundation is raising friends and funds to support full-day kindergarten programming at schools whose students are socially vulnerable and at risk academically. Although Edmonton Public Schools subsidizes the funding for full-day kindergarten programming at 21 schools and the Foundation has raised funds to offer the program at three other schools, there are 12 additional schools whose students would significantly benefit from full-day kindergarten.

“The work of our Foundation is critical to our vision to help every student learn to their full potential,” said Dave Colburn, Chair of the Edmonton Public School Board. “We are grateful to all the members of the public who have become involved with the Foundation as their commitment to public education is making a difference in the lives of students.”

The Board also approved support for advocacy efforts to integrate financial literacy across the kindergarten to grade 12 curriculum. “Financial literacy is a critical life skill and this Board is interested in ensuring all of our students have access to learning this skill,” said Colburn. The Board is requesting that the Alberta School Boards Association pursue advocacy in this area.

Edmonton Public Schools… In the News

Edmonton high school fish farmers raise, cook and recycle their food
Edmonton Journal, January 22, 2012

When culinary arts student David Danforth started raising fish shipped in last month for Jasper Place High School’s new aquaponics operation, he gave one of them a name: Sushi. Read more.


CBC RADIO – Holyrood School
EDMONTON AM 1 (CBX-AM), Edmonton, January 26, 2012

Great things are happening in schools all over Edmonton. Holyrood School’s community spirit has attracted the attention and the wallet of a national insurance company. Aviva’s Community Fund is giving the school $40,000. Interview with Suzanne Prefontaine, Assistant Principal of Holyrood School. Read the media release here.


DRIVING A POINT HOME – Avonmore School
The Edmonton Journal, January 26, 2012

Grade 8 student Tiawah Makokis, 13, tries her driving skills on a project two students devised on dangers of distracted driving, at a science fair at Avonmore School, for girls in Grades 7 to 9 in the Nellie McClung program.  For the past several months, the girls have been working on projects based on subjects that they are interested in. The best projects advance to the Edmonton Regional Science Fair.


CTV NEWS AT NOON – Afton School of the Arts
(CFRN-TV),  January 26, 2012

Recognition from some local students who fought to get smoking banned in public parks. Students from Afton School of the Arts were presented with a blue ribbon award from the Edmonton Tobacco Reduction Network. Last year, the Grade 5 and 6 students lobbied city officials for smoke-free parks and smoke-free playgrounds.


The Dave Rutherford Show 
(CHQR-AM), Calgary, January 20, 2012

Edmonton Public Schools is the first school board to get serious about ban on unhealthy food in schools. Research conducted at Penn State University about link between junk food sales and child obesity rates is criticized for its limitations. The study is criticized on the grounds that three years (the length of the study) is too short a time to determine whether junk food availability impacted childrens’ obesity rates. The study concluded there was no impact. Edmonton Public Schools’ Board Chair David Colburn argues that an approach must be undertaken that educates children about eating to address the long-term effects of junk food.