From the Desk of the Superintendent- February 2, 2014

Semester and quarter exams are over and February begins the last half of the school year. According to Balzac Billy, who didn’t see his shadow, spring should be right around the corner, even though Environment Canada predicts more cold! The question is, “Who are you going to believe?” Regardless of the weather, we are in February, our shortest month, and beginning the homestretch.

The January board meeting consistently revolves around planning. Trustees review a scope and sequence document that sets out some draft timelines in preparation for submission of the Three Year Education Plan and Annual Budget at the end of May. Draft is the imperative word though, as until the provincial budget is released, firm plans cannot be finalized. Regardless of the provincial budget, stakeholder input is a high priority for the Board of Trustees. This year, the Board will be relying on two distinct consultation processes to gain feedback. The first will be an online survey available to all staff and parents/guardians that requests feedback on the Division’s current strategic priorities.

  1. Catholic Identity
  2. Success for Every Student
  3. Generative Governance.

The second process will be an invite only, face to face consultation that links directly to the vision of the impending Education Act. In addition to staff, parent, parish and FNMI representatives, the Board has invited business, industry and post secondary leaders to provide their insights in preparing our future graduates for successful transition after high school. The lens through which the consultation will look will be the competencies necessary for our future graduates.

Capital planning is also a focus at this time of year. Enrollment projections and building facility audits assist the Board in developing their capital plan. Last week, we received tremendous news at the announcement of a major modernization for St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. This has been the board’s top priority for a number of years. We are also anxiously awaiting news on modular classrooms for FLVT in Lethbridge as we continue to experience significant growth throughout our division.

An additional agenda item was brought forth on the day of the meeting due to a letter received from the Bow Island ward of Medicine Hat Catholic Regional School Division. During the October election, the ratepayers in Bow Island voted to disenfranchise from their current division and seek out another Catholic division to join. Their preference, because of a number of reasons (which we are very proud of) including our understanding of rural education is to join Holy Spirit Catholic Schools. Significant work is required of Bow Island, Medicine Hat Catholic and us in order to reach an agreement by the April 30th deadline. The Bow Island ward contains one K-12 school, St. Michael’s in the town of Bow Island. If a successful agreement can be negotiated, the addition of St. Michael’s and the expansion of our boundaries will have many positive outcomes.

This week I will be travelling to all schools for my 2nd meeting with administration to review their continuous improvement plans. Although there is a fair amount of driving, these meetings get me out of my office and into schools where I get a sense of the excellent work occurring throughout the division. I focus on what schools have done in the last 30 days (or since my last visit) to meet their improvement plan goals and what are they going to do in the next 30 days. Beyond the activities, which are many, I ask our school administrators for evidence that what they are doing is both effective and efficient. The evidence or data (quantitative or qualitative) is critical for understanding whether schools are moving forward of staying the same.

Here’s a list of some of the happenings in our schools from our division calendar:

  • Monday– Early Learning Program Leaders meeting and the Board travels to Our Lady of the Assumption School for their Staff Appreciation Luncheon
  • Tuesday– FNMI Support Workers meeting and a parent evening for the French Immersion Review at St. Michael’s School
  • Wednesday– CCH Gr 12 Harvest Retreat, St. Paul’s Christian Action Assembly at 10:40 AM, our 2nd FNMI Family Gathering at the Friendship Centre (5:30 PM -7:30 PM) and St. Francis School is hosting a Parent Tech Night beginning at 6:30 PM.

And finally, here are some great articles that I’ve come across lately:

  1. Building School Morale by David Culberhouse
  2.  Seven Ways to Develop Smart Teams by Dan Rockwell
  3. Are we preparing students for the 21st century? by Michelle Hiebert
  4. Stating the Obvious by George Couros

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