School District 51 (SD51) school board trustees discussed class sizes and new initiatives during their first school board meeting of the year on Sept. 11.
Beaverdell Elementary lacking teaching assistant
Concerned parent Michelle Kreitz gave a presentation to school board trustees about the lack of a teaching assistant (TA) or supervisor at Beaverdell Elementary School.
“I’m here tonight to discuss the TA (teaching assistant) position in Beaverdell,” she said. “It came to my attention shortly before the first day of school that there was only going to be the one teacher in the classroom. I think that it is completely unsafe and unacceptable to myself to the other parents in the elementary school.”
Kreitz pointed out that there was a meeting three years ago, where the issue of having a supervisor and funding was raised.
“We talked about our supervisors going away from the school during the morning and evening because of funding,” she said. “At that time, the board said they weren’t interested in taking out the TA position at the school because of safety and other issues. We’re wondering why that’s an option now and why it’s OK to do this at this time.”
The school board trustees are currently discussing the issue.
Student head count
SD51 saw a drop in 78 students throughout the district, with fewer students enrolled in the West Boundary than expected.
Jeanette Hanlon, SD51 secretary-treasurer, noted that the numbers are expected to change over the next few months, but the drop in numbers is worrisome.
Ministry initiative to empower young readers
Hutton Elementary School Principal Doug Lacey presented the new Ministry of Education project to board trustees about engaging young readers.
The program, called Changing Results for Young Readers is geared towards supporting early readers from Kindergarten to Grade 3.
“Three of us went down to Richmond, B.C. in late August to find out what this new initiative is about and basically the province has put together teams of educators being guided by early literacy and early educator experts in British Columbia to lead a literacy and inquiry based change processes in all 60 districts,” Lacey explained.
“We will be considering early reading practices, many of which we got to see through different presenters at the conference, leaving us with various skills, strategies and techniques that we may want to look at for supporting and engaging young readers.”
Lacey noted that the first group meeting will be held on Oct. 22 for teachers and the facilitator to gather and discuss ideas.
Class sizes large in Christina Lake
Two classes at Christina Lake Elementary School are at or over the maximum student limit.
Large class sizes have not been much of an issue with the schools in SD51, as most fall under the mandatory provincial limit of 30 students and below.
The Grade 6/7 class has 31 students, while the Grade 4/5 class is at 30 students.
SD51 Superintendent of Schools Michael Strukoff noted that they would address the issue of large class sizes using the tools prescribed in Bill 22, the Education Improvement Act.
District redesign public forums
SD51 will be holding follow-up public forums to discuss the issue of district redesign on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2.
The forums will discuss the finances and information gathered from previous forums and the possibilities of middle schools, as well as provincial education initiatives such as the Erase Bullying program and graduation program review.
The West Boundary forum will take place at Boundary Central Secondary School on Oct. 1 at 6:30 p.m., while the East Boundary forum will occur at Perley Elementary School on Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Summer updates to schools
Maintenance, custodian and technology departments worked throughout the summer to prepare the schools around the district for a new school year.
New roofing was done at Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) and Hutton Elementary School, while the gym floors across the district were resurfaced.
Some updates include a new paint job in the main entrance, gym, office corridors and band room, along with new flooring in these areas in GFSS. The exterior of GFSS was also repainted.
At Hutton and Christina Lake Elementary School, the wood sliding was replaced with metal sliding, and BCSS parking lot was also paved.
Within the technology department, new hardware and computers were upgraded in several schools. The new phone system, VOIP (voice over internet protocol) was also completed at BCSS, Perley and Hutton.
The next school board meeting is on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Boundary Learning Centre.