May has come to an end and that means only one more month of school. Over the next weeks, students will be busy preparing for final exams, year end field trips and of course, thinking of their upcoming summer holidays! We celebrated the graduations of students in two of our high schools in May and are looking forward to the graduation ceremonies of St. Mary School in Taber at the end of June.
May is typically a fairly busy month for school divisions. This was certainly exacerbated with the barrage of announcements from Alberta Education. Staffing is one of the greatest priorities during this month. Teachers are required to submit their retirement and/or resignation notices by May 31st at the very latest. Based on those decisions, as well as any other staff movement, open positions are filled on a seemingly continual basis. The strategic priorities of the board drive the budget and the budget drives staffing. School divisions across Alberta faced some difficult budget decisions this year. We were not immune to the budget woes as our Division faced a decrease in provincial revenues of over $1,005,000. With the believe that provincial funding may be further negatively impacted next year, the Board was cautious in their use of operating reserves ($500,000) to balance the budget. Still, the Division will continue to spend nearly 79% of their total budget or over $42,000,000 on instruction. Compete details of the budget can be found here. Additionally, our regular board meeting brief can be found here.
The board also set out some priorities to assist in creating more pathways to success for high school students. Trinity Learning Centre (located near Catholic Central High School), will be offering expanded hours to better serve the diverse needs of students. In partnership with the school and Alberta Distance Learning Centre, students will have the choice of accessing their education in print or online formats. The Registered Apprenticeship Program will also be highlighted with the hiring of an Off Campus Coordinator. This teacher, will focus on providing our students with greater accessibility to the trades and work experience throughout the Division. In addition, we are working closely with neighbouring school divisions and the Lethbridge College to realize a dual credit program for Health Care Aides. And finally, our growing immigrant population has resulted in an English Language Learning Program being offered for junior and senior high students at St. Francis and Catholic Central High School. Each of these strategies has been established to create more pathways for success.
During the month of May and June, many of our schools are showcasing the FNMI culture that exists in our area. With the Blood Reserve (largest reserve in Canada) and the Piikani Reserve in our own backyard, we are fortunate to have local expertise share their tradition and culture. Earlier this month, we held our annual Feather Blessing and Metis Sash Ceremony, our FNMI Student Awards, a Pow Wow at Children of St. Martha and numerous other Heritage Day events in our schools. Later this month, students from CCH will be organizing a Division Wide Pow Wow on June 12th beginning at 5:00 PM at Campus West.
If May is any indication, June will pass by just as quick. Good luck to all of our students in preparing for all of their year end tests and activities! God Bless!