|Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Board wins Premier's Board of Education Award||Dec. 2, 2008|
|Association president re-elected||Dec. 2, 2008|
|93rd Annual Assembly of the Sask. School Boards Assoc. to be held Nov.30-Dec. 2||Nov. 27, 2008|
|Treaty Commissioner Provides Support For Aboriginal Employment in Saskatchewan's Schools||Sept. 18, 2008|
|Saskatchewan's Major Educational Organizations Respond to Province's Property Tax Review||Sept. 5, 2008|
|Association has mixed reaction to Education Act amendments||Apr. 15, 2008|
|Budget holds promise for school boards||Mar. 19, 2008|
|Association releases Executive Director and Senior Director of Advocacy Services||Mar. 18, 2008|
The Premier's Board of Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in Education was presented on Monday December 1, to the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Board.
This year's winning program is the "St. Mary Wellness and Education Centre" which is a model of learning that takes a holistic approach to education and wellness and focuses on each key area in the development of a child: spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual.
The award was presented by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, in conjunction with the sponsor The Document Company - Xerox. Xerox provides a $3,000 award, which is to be reinvested in the program. This award recognizes educational innovations and improvements focused on student achievement that have been advanced or directed by boards of education.
Diane Boyko, Chair of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Board accepted the award on behalf of the board. Minister of Education, Ken Krawetz, presented the award.
"St. Mary Wellness and Education Centre is a true SchoolPlus model," said Boyko. "It's a grassroots movement involving community and parents, administration and staff, and outside partners and it shows what true collaboration means."
Roy Challis, President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, was re-elected to a third term as President at the Association's Fall General Assembly on Tuesday December 2. Sandi Urban-Hall was acclaimed as the Association's new Vice-President.
Challis is from North Battleford and is a member of the Living Sky School Division. Urban-Hall is a member of the Prairie Valley School Division.
The Association also welcomes one new Executive member to the nine-person Executive: Larry Ahenakew, Northern Constituency (Northern Lights S.D. #113).
Returning members of the Executive include:
The Minister of Education, Ken Krawetz addressed delegates on Tuesday morning during their Annual General Meeting.
Saskatchewan's boards of education will come together at the Radisson Hotel in Saskatoon from Sunday, November 30 until Tuesday, December 2 to discuss issues of importance to publicly-funded education in Saskatchewan.
Members of the province's 29 public and separate school boards and the conseil scolaire fransaskois will participate in the Annual General Meeting of the Association, vote on resolutions and bylaws, and take part in group discussions and board development opportunities.
The Assembly will begin Sunday evening, November 30 with a presentation on "Supporting Social Justice in Our Schools" delivered by Dr. James McNinch, Dean of Education at the University of Regina and Clayton Desjarlais of Mâwandônan Consulting.
Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury will be the featured speaker on Monday morning, December 1 and will address the topic, "The Great Traits of Legacy Leavers - Fundamental Ways of Being." Following Mark Tewksbury, Roy Challis will deliver the annual SSBA President's Address and Executive Director Ernie Cychmistruk will present the 2008 Annual Report and proposed 2009 Budget for the Association. The remainder of the day will be devoted to the Association's Annual General Meeting and group discussions on topics of interest to school board members.
On Tuesday morning, the Hon. Ken Krawetz, Minister of Education will address the Assembly and field questions from the trustee delegates. Following the Minister, elections for the positions of SSBA President and Vice-President will take place. Craig Melvin, Chair of the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency, will also inform delegates about the impact on boards of education of the reassessment scheduled for 2009.
Saskatchewan School boards, with the support of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, are committed to ensuring more First Nations and Métis people are working in Saskatchewan's schools.
Today, Treaty Commissioner Hon. Bill McKnight formally presented a $25,000.00 contribution to the School Boards Association's Aboriginal Employment Development Program (AEDP). The program aims to increase employment opportunities in the Pre- Kindergarten - Grade 12 education sector for First Nations and Métis people by raising the profile of available jobs and training, and, by increasing awareness of Aboriginal culture and history. The program was created through a partnership among the Saskatchewan School Boards Association and the provincial Ministries of Education and First Nations and Métis Relations.
According to School Boards Association President Roy Challis, "We want to see more First Nations and Métis people working in our schools. Our long term goal is to create a more representative workforce among the 12,000 teachers and 8,000 support staff throughout the province's 29 school divisions."
Treaty Commissioner McKnight said, "The Elders said Treaty implementation is about 'making a living '. An important part of the Mission of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner is to focus on self-sufficiency and economic well being for First Nations peoples. We applaud and support the work being undertaken by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. Creating education employment opportunities for Aboriginal people will benefit students, teachers and all Saskatchewan communities."
Saskatchewan's school boards, teachers and senior administrators have responded with a united voice to the Education Property Tax Review currently being undertaken by Rosetown-Elrose MLA Jim Reiter.
According to School Boards Association President Roy Challis, "Based on our commitment to a common set of principles that should guide decision-making on this issue, our organizations have delivered a very succinct but important message: 'The research surrounding education funding in Saskatchewan has been completed. It is now time for action! '"
In their joint letter to Jim Reiter, the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA), the Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation (STF), the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents (LEADS) and the Association of School Business Officials (SASBO) maintained that the provincial government and the education organizations in Saskatchewan must arrive at a shared understanding of the meaning of the terms "adequacy of funding" and "autonomy of school boards". The organizations also expressed unanimous agreement that the funding of Pre-K-12 education in Saskatchewan has become overly reliant on the property tax and urged the government to make a decision about how other sources of revenue might be used to help fund education in Saskatchewan.
Challis concluded: "If the Government of Saskatchewan chooses to reduce school boards' reliance on the property tax we would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively to develop a long term, sustainable plan for funding education in Saskatchewan. We need to take action to address the immediate funding challenges facing school divisions, and, to develop a plan that will serve Saskatchewan students and schools over the long term. We will be vigorously pursuing this matter with the government in the coming weeks and months."
Amendments to The Education Act, 1995 introduced in the Legislative Assembly yesterday were received with mixed reaction by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association.
Amendments to the Act include changes to the school closure process as well as the introduction of Schools of Opportunity.
Boards of Education are pleased to see that the government continues to recognize the importance of board autonomy and that the decision to review, close, or discontinue grades is one that Boards of Education need to make sometimes based on fiscal realities.
They are also satisfied that the government continues to recognize the different mandates of various local governance bodies.
"Economic development is not the mandate of boards of education, but of municipal governments, " said Roy Challis, President of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association. "We are pleased that the government clearly recognizes this distinction. "
The amendments provide for school review committee structures and mandate, and the hope is that this will ensure that communities and Boards of Education are engaged in productive exchanges of relevant information and ideas.
Outstanding questions remain regarding the details of the regulations that accompany changes to this Act. One area of concern is the criteria that are referenced in both the Schools of Opportunity and School Review processes.
"We know that 'one size does not fit all' within individual school divisions, let alone within the provincial context, "said Challis. "Expecting the same criteria to fit the needs of all boards is impossible and would be a gross infringement on board autonomy. "
Boards are also concerned that stringent provincial criteria will affect the ability of individual board's to respond to day-to-day policy and administrative decisions.
The Association acknowledges that the 2008-09 provincial budget doesn't meet all the needs of the province's school boards but the government has clearly heard our concerns.
This budget includes a one-time investment of $100 million to school infrastructures. This one time injection of $100 million is a start, but boards of education are still challenged to meet the $1 billion backlog in capital requirements. The Association is encouraged by the government's commitment to provide a long-range facility planning framework.
The government addressed the issue of education property tax in this budget by offering a property tax rebate in the amount of $48.7 million. The Association, along with their coalition partners have been calling on the government to provide long-term sustainable property tax relief. While we did not see that in this budget, the government did promise that they would continue to provide a bridge until a long-term solution could be found.
The Association's Property Tax Coalition partners are the Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS©, the Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association.
"We're encouraged that the government has been listening to the needs of boards of education, " said Sandi Urban-Hall, Vice-President of the Association. "We are encouraged to see more of a commitment to a long term plan for the education system in our province. "
The budget also saw an increase to the Foundation Operating Grant of 5.9%. However, after removing the $34.5 million needed to fully fund the Teacher's Collective Agreement it's important to realize that this leaves only $15.5 million to fund the other initatives announced in today's budget.
The budget also introduces $1 million for Schools of Opportunity funding.
"We remind our members that this new funding does not cover the operating costs of the school, " Urban-Hall said. "School divisions will still be covering the majority of the operating costs. "
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association has ended the employment of its Executive Director, Bill Wells and Senior Director of Advocacy Services, Ardith Stephanson.
The decision to end their employment was a unanimous one made by the Association Executive. The details surrounding this situation remain a confidential nature and cannot be communicated to the public.
"The decision to end their employment was a difficult one to make and was only taken after a thorough investigation, " said Roy Challis, Association President. "It was an internal issue and did not involve any allegations of illegal actions. "
An interim Executive Director will be appointed until such time as this position can be permanently filled.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association represents all 28 boards of education in Saskatchewan, serving over 160,000 students, and is the voice of the public in education.