The Lloydminster Public School Division (LPSD) had an overall successful 2013-2014 school year, many details of which were discussed at their annual general meeting on Jan. 21.
The meeting went over topics like the beginning of the Education Strategic Sector Plan, graduation rates for aboriginal students, facility upgrades and students feeling safe at school.
“We’re in year one with the sector plan for education in Saskatchewan, so all of the school divisions collaborated to create a plan for what they saw as the priorities for education in the province and then every board of education passed that plan,” said Todd Robinson, director of education for LPSD, in a follow-up interview.
“So that tells us what we should be focusing on for the next year.”
The three main points of the plan are to improve literacy scores, graduation rates and a focus on First Nation and Métis education outcomes.
At the meeting, board chair David Thompson, was pleased to explain that aboriginal graduation rates in their system were 17 per cent higher than the rest of the province, putting them at 58 per cent, but said there was still more to do.
“That’s certainly something to celebrate and kudos to our staff at all levels who contributed to that but we need to win that game, we need to close that gap tightly,” he said.
Some of the facility upgrades that were discussed involved a new bus loading/unloading area at Lloydminster Comprehensive High School and a roofing project for Queen Elizabeth School.
With the present issues in the economy and resulting tight budget, Thompson found it important to note that these projects will be self-funded through their capital budget or by grants, not the division’s operating budget.
“Most provinces provide some grants for building maintenance and upgrades. In the case of the high school, we’re really pleased to have the partnership of the Barons’ Alumni Association,” he said. “Of course, the lion’s share of this will have to come out of the capital reserves, but they have been set up for that purpose and for that purpose alone.”
Another significant event that happened last year was Colleen Young stepping aside as chair when she was elected to the provincial legislature. Though many were disappointed in seeing her leave, Thompson pointed out the benefit in having a comrade with such provincial influence.
“Well, we’ve lost her as chair, but we’re very pleased to have a board voice inside our government,” Thompson said.
“Colleen has been a fierce advocate for education for years and now we thank her for that work that she’s done and for what will become ... for our community, and particularly education, as we have that strong voice for education inside our government.”
Students feeling safe in school was another point of focus discussed at the AGM. Robinson talked about an Alberta accountability survey that gave percentages on the subject and the survey found that 85 to 90 per cent of kids in Grade 4 felt safe, while that number dropped as they went up through the grades.
He felt this was an important thing to address as it’s harder to work and focus when one feels unconnected and unsafe.
“We understand that if you don’t feel safe and you don’t feel welcome, that you’re not going to be able to learn well,” he said. “Bottom line I think, is just creating really safe environments where kids feel like they got adults that care for them and friends that look out for their best interests.”
LPSD is looking forward to moving ahead with these issues and initiatives in their 2014-2015 school year.