PWPSD Board News – May 27, 2021

MAY 27, 2021
Inspiring all learners to become confident, collaborative and ethical citizens motivated with a passion to achieve a sustainable future.
Following approval of the 2021-22 budget, the PWPSD Board will seek Ministerial approval to fund the budgeted Transportation deficit of $547,652 from Capital Reserves.

Board approves deficit 2021-22 budget

The Board is required to approve the spring budget for submission to Alberta Education. This year’s submission deadline is May 30, 2021. 

The Board voted to approve the 2021-22 budget with operating revenues of $83,214,335 and operating expenditures of $83,714,335, resulting in a deficit of $500,000. The Board will request Ministerial approval to fund the 2021-22 budgeted Transportation deficit of $547,652 from Capital Reserves. 

Within the budget, student enrolment at PWPSD schools is projected to increase by 1.8 per cent, or approximately 99 students in the upcoming year. Families of students new to PWPSD, or new to the school in which they are registering, are encouraged to register online as soon as possible for the upcoming school year, while school staff are still in their offices and able to provide assistance, if necessary. 

Other considerations in the budget include the Inclusive Education increase of $100,000 in support of mental health, and $400,000 to support ongoing pandemic-related costs as schools begin to transition to near-normal operations during the first half of the 2021-22 school year, such as contracts to meet the cleaning and disinfecting requirements for schools, personal protective equipment, and substitute teaching costs. 

"As we move beyond the numerous restrictions resulting from the pandemic, this budget will allow us to take into consideration some assumed costs that may continue, such as additional sanitizing and personal protective equipment," says Superintendent Bob Stewart. "Additionally, this budget will support PWPSD's full return to regular educational operations, as well as enhancements to student wellness, literacy and numeracy."


PWPSD Assurance Plan 2021-22 prioritizes
student learning, equity, wellness

Deputy Superintendent Darren Young presented the PWPSD Assurance Plan for the 2021-22 school year, for submission to Alberta Education by the May 31, 2021 deadline. The PWPSD Assurance Plan outlines the school division's vision, mission, mandate and goals, and the staffing commitment to meet three strategic district priorities:

  1. Student Learning
  2. Equity
  3. Wellness

The report stems from Alberta Education's shift from the Annual Education Results Report due annually at the end of November, to adopting an Assurance Model. For PWPSD administration, the first step in the transition involved identifying the three strategic priorities that capture the important past and ongoing improvement work of the school division.

Through the process, PWPSD redesigned its School Improvement Planning (SIP) process to incorporate broader school community engagement, more precise improvement initiatives, alignment with the district priorities, and the use of provincial and local data to measure growth over time. 

Using the online engagement platform, Thought Exchange, PWPSD received feedback from students, parents, staff and community members in February 2021 that helped affirm the three priorities. PWPSD administration hosted professional development sessions with school leadership to build common understandings around each of the three priorities and the assurance goals, strategies, measurement, and ongoing refinement of the PWPSD's Assurance Model. 

In August, PWPSD administration will work with school leadership to develop three district committees to further refine supporting assurance strategies and local data measures that will assess the impact on improved outcomes for students. 

View the PWPSD Assurance Plan 2021-22 online


Superintendent Stewart reappointed
for four-year term

By a unanimous vote, the Board approved the reappointment of Bob Stewart as Superintendent of Schools for a four-year term commencing September 1, 2021, pending Ministerial approval.


Spirit River Regional Academy, Rycroft School attendance boundaries expanded 

At the recommendation of PWPSD administration, the Board agreed to expand the Spirit River Regional Academy attendance boundary to include the Woking School attendance area west of Highway 2, and to expand the Rycroft School attendance boundary to include the Woking School attendance area east of Highway 2.

The changes are part of the student transition plan following the closure of Woking School at the end of the 2020-21 school year. 

Both schools have sufficient space and increased staffing to accommodate students from the Woking area. A school is deemed fully utilized when it reaches 85 per cent of capacity. With the addition of Woking students, Spirit River Regional Academy will reach 60 per cent utilization, while Rycroft School's utilization rate will remain unchanged.

Some students in the extremities of the revised attendance boundary for Spirit River Regional School may experience longer bus ride times, however this may be offset by the school's later start time.


General School Councils Meeting Report

Trustee Anderson provided a report from the annual PWPSD General School Councils (GSC) meeting, held as a virtual event on March 30 that saw 43 attendees, including school council members, parents, trustees and staff. 

The event opened with a Land Acknowledgement by Trustee Dana McIntosh, followed by trustee introductions and an update on news from PWPSD by Board Chair Kari Scheers.

Assistant Superintendent Kevin Elias invited parents, staff and school council members to participate in an anonymous online forum by April 29, hosted on the Thought Exchange platform, sharing what they appreciate about school council and what PWPSD can focus on to enhance engagement. The feedback was considered in the development of the PWPSD Assurance Plan 2021-22. 

With 2021 being an election year for school boards, Trustees Sharilyn Anderson and Bob Knull presented on the role of trustees, school board responsibilities, and the importance of democratically-elected public school board trustees. Those interested in running for trusteeship can find additional resources on the PWPSD Election webpage. Nominations will close on September 20, and school board elections will align with Alberta's 2021 Municipal Election Day on Monday, October 18. 

In lieu of the meal that is typically part of in-person GSC meetings, the Board opted to award three $50 gift certificates as door prizes throughout the virtual event. Congratulations to the winners – Martine Piebiak, Eaglesham School Council; Rosanna Clark, LaGlace School Council; and Stacey Korzenowski, Beaverlodge Elementary School Council. 


Inclusive Education and Wellness Team

Heather Putio, Assistant Superintendent of Inclusive Education (left) was joined by PWPSD District Principal Karen Chrenek (middle) and Heather Craigdallie (right), a Registered Psychologist with Peace Collaborative Services (PCS) in providing the annual report on the mental health, inclusive education and early childhood supports in place across the district that provide equitable services to all schools.

Mental Health Supports
Ms. Craigdallie quoted research stating that 20 per cent of youth aged 12-25 will experience a mental health disorder, and that 70 percent of mental health disorders are identified within this age range. In PWPSD schools, 20 per cent of children and youth are experiencing a need for mental health interventions. 

The mental health supports in place at PWPSD schools provide specialized services to effectively meet the needs of staff and students. 

Areas of concern during the pandemic include student disconnection during isolation or temporary moves to remote learning, staff burn-out and exhaustion, significant increase in support for families, and meeting the mental health needs of remote learners.

Gaps in external services are creating new challenges for the PWPSD team, including the loss of access to addiction counsellors, closure of the Youth Day Treatment Facility, significant waitlists for in-patient psychiatric supports in Grande Prairie, and the ongoing need for tailored supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PWPSD Mental Health initiatives in 2020-21 included roll-out of Suicide Risk Assessment protocol and updates to the bereavement response protocol. The group has also updated internal documents to support effective triage. Looking ahead to the upcoming year, the team will develop a formal assessment process with results made available to school-based wellness teams to support their planning, in addition to supporting schools with their wellness-based School Improvement Plans. The team will also continue to implement their three-year Universal Wellness Outcomes Plan.  

Inclusive Education Supports
Ms. Putio reported on Inclusive Education staffing and the supports they provide to students. PWPSD currently employs the full-time equivalent of 6.3 Inclusive Education Coaches who lead capacity-building initiatives to enhance the daily functioning of identified students with special needs. A Literacy Coordinator specializes in implementing tailored interventions to support literacy in all grades and targeted programs for phonological awareness, supported by Educational Assistants. Inclusive Education Assistants provide supports to students identified with mild, moderate or severe disabilities and/or delays. Additional specialized supports are provided by PWPSD's Speech Language Pathology (SLP) Assistants, Early Literacy Assistants and Kindergarten Severe Disability Assistants. PCS Rehabilitation Therapists provide in-school programming recommendations in the areas of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language therapy.

Early Childhood Services
Ms. Chrenek explained that Early Childhood Services (ECS) is provided through County of Grande Prairie Playschools and PWPSD school-led Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten programming, along with supports and services from PCS and Triple P Practitioner Family Support, and specialized equipment and supplies. ECS programs focus on capacity-building in the areas of literacy, numeracy, executive functioning, and fine and gross motor skills. PWPSD's Early Years Evaluation pre-assessments provide data to inform practice, however post-assessments have been difficult to complete during the pandemic. Specific information about PWPSD ECS programming is available online.

Travel moratorium extended to January 2022

Based on recommendations from the Alberta Risk Managed Insurance Consortium (ARMIC), the PWPSD Board reaffirmed the existing moratorium on all national and international travel, until January 2022 at the earliest. The ban on travel initially became effective following the Board Motion on June 18, 2020 as a proactive measure in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Policy Review Committee Report

Trustee McIntosh provided the Policy Review Committee Report which included the following updates, review and rescinding of policies. All PWPSD policies are available online

Updates to:

  • Policy BD – Board Meetings
  • Policy BCE – Exhibit 1 – Committee Terms of Reference
  • Policy BDC – In Camera Sessions and Committee of the Whole Meetings
  • Policy JC – School Councils and Exhibit 1 – School Councils Timeline for Principals
Review of:
  • Policy DA – Records Management
Rescinding of:
  • Policy IO – Student Records

Committee and meeting reports

  • Trustee Knull reviewed the 2021-22 budget provided by the Rural Caucus of Alberta School Boards (RCASB) which the Board approved.
  • Trustee McIntosh presented the Board Self-Evaluation Report. The Board authorized the Chair to monitor the priorities and suggestions. 
  • Trustee Scheers reported on the meeting with the County of Grande Prairie, held on April 29, 2021. 
  • Trustee Anderson reported on the ASBA Zone 1 meeting. Deputy Minister of Education Andre Tremblay affirmed at the meeting that the Draft Kindergarten - Grade 6 Curriculum is indeed a draft. Feedback on the draft curriculum will continue to be accepted until spring 2022
  • Trustee Grant reported on the Political Action Committee meeting. 

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