GFSS principal Stewart: trades program successful

Grand Forks Secondary School principal Scott Stewart presented a summary of the first year of the district’s trades program on Jan. 21.

At the Jan. 21 School District 51 board meeting, Grand Forks Secondary School principal Scott Stewart presented a summary of the first year of the district’s trades program: Pathways, which Stewart deemed a success.

Twenty-four students took part in the program which was divided into two sections or pathways. Stewart said that most of the students took advantage of the opportunity the program offered to complete certificate training that would help them find work.

Among the certificates the students achieved were Food Safe, World Host, Workplace Hazardous Materials Safety System (WHMIS) and forklift operator. “We have indications from a number of employers,” Stewart said, “that with those certifications it gives kids a leg up in the hiring process.”

In answer to questions concerning the future of the program and how it was viewed by other students, Stewart said, “We have a lot of kids now who have seen what their friends have participated in and they’re kind of anxious to get involved.”

Stewart hoped that the board would continue to provide funding for the program.

Though districts have been given the authority by the Ministry of Education to establish their own school schedules and timetables, the same criteria that have been used in the past will be applied next year in SD51. Superintendant Michael Strukoff said, “So a Labour Day start, end of June finish, two week breaks at spring and Christmas and all our weeks will be four day weeks.”

Student numbers

Board member Vicki Gee asked if it was possible to get anecdotal reports that gave reasons for students dropping out of school.

Further discussion revealed that the number of students leaving was not high and that the reasons varied from families moving, to job opportunities, to decisions to home school.

Board chair Teresa Rezansoff indicated that the high schools monitor their own students and try to determine reasons for leaving but that because there have not been any trends in that direction, there was no action required at the district level.

2012-13 financials

Secretary-treasurer Jeannette Hanlon provided the latest budget figures, indicating that the 2012-2013 school year will have balanced revenue and expenditures exceeding $16 million.

Items that had not previously been figured into the budget included a drop in the number of international students, costs related to the Fundamental Skills Assessment, increases in medical and health benefits, and the costs of an anti-bullying campaign.

Gee asked for a review of the budget process, indicating that she felt a need for more information on programs and other budget items before they are simply either included or excluded from the final budget.

Other members expressed satisfaction with the past process.

The board determined that after a decision yesterday (Tuesday) about realigning the grades to include a middle school (the board voted against the middle school), the board would then be able to meet with the district’s administrative officers to begin the budget process, followed by altering or re-establishing strategic planning goals and then beginning the consultation process with teachers, CUPE and the general public.

Information concerning the school board and SD51 can be found on their website.