April 14, 2021 Board Meeting News

April 19th, 2021

Regional Office – 

In this board news summary, read about:

  • Board allocates additional $1.3 Million to Co-op Pool
  • Board approves 2021-2022 allocation formula
  • Board approves Strategic Priorities for 2021-2024 Education Plan
  • Board sets Capital Plan Priorities
  • Transportation Assurance Report
  • Preschool and K-6 students to have priority for in-town busing

Board allocates additional $1.3 Million to Co-op Pool

In support of the Education Plan, the school board approved the recommendation to allocate a total of $4.91M to the Co-op Pool in 2021-2022. At their spring planning meetings, Principals also supported the recommendation for a $1.3M increase to the Co-op pool which will be used to support the following initiatives including: 

  • The addition of Student Learning Support positions, which include the 2.5 FTE positions that were added by a board motion in December 2020:
    • 2.0 FTE Behavior Specialist
    • 2.0 FTE Speech Language Pathologist
    • 0.5 FTE Occupational Therapist
    • 1.0 FTE SLP Aide
  • System administration will utilize $757,000 to cover expenses related to instruction due to the loss of the ADLC management fee

Board approves 2021-2022 allocation formula

The Board allocates financial resources to schools and service areas so they can prepare individual budgets which are then consolidated into the annual budget. The board approved the 2021-2022 allocation formula in which Pembina Hills will receive an estimated $55.6M in operational funding for 2021-2022. This is $4.953M more than last year and includes:

  • A funding adjustment of $917,844 for the increased online school enrolments Vista Virtual School experienced this year.
  • Funding received for summer school 2020 and completed credits of part-time students at Vista Virtual School
  • $594,000 for Pre-K and Kindergarten learning grants
  • $368,574 of bridge funding that is expected to be eliminated next year

Reduction of Operating Reserves
As of August 2020, Pembina Hills reported a combined surplus and operating reserves of almost $6.2M (10.67% of operating expenses). These levels are monitored by the province, and are targeted to be between 1 and 5% of operating expenses. As a result the division will allocate approximately $900,000 in reserves to schools, allowing them to maintain or increase  certificated staff at most schools by 5.97 FTE, 3% higher than 2020-2021. Support staff hours for program assistants, success coaches, office and library are maintained at 2020-2021 levels in the allocation formula.

Increased Teacher Costs
It’s also important to note the substantial increase in average teacher cost for 2021-2022 due to the August 31, 2021 closure of Alberta Distance Learning Centre. The closure will result in fewer less experienced teachers within the division as 97% of certificated staff fall within the mid to highest range of the salary grid, with 78% at the top of the grid.

Board approves Strategic Priorities for 2021-2024 Education Plan

Education Planning and Reporting is a continuous process in Pembina Hills. Feedback on the effectiveness and impact of strategies comes through school administrators’ observations and dialogue with teachers, students, parents and school councils throughout the school year. School administrators meet with division leaders regularly and subcommittees are used to guide and monitor key strategies. 

The board receives reports when data becomes available. Information received by the board includes but is not limited to reports about survey results, Achievement Test and Diploma Exam results, and various departments’ strategic plans. The cycle wraps up in November when the division’s completed Education Plan and Annual Results Report is submitted to the province. The Education Planning cycle resumes immediately thereafter.

The board approved the following strategic priorities, including a request to change Student-Teacher Relationships to Student-Staff Relationships, to recognize the impact that all staff have with students.  

  • Student-Staff Relationships – Positive relationships between students and staff are the foundation upon which we build students’ resilience, confidence and mental well-being.
  • Literacy and Numeracy – These are critical for Student Achievement in all areas of the curriculum.
  • Support for Staff – A collaborative environment enables staff to teach a diverse student population through purposeful inclusion and supports the implementation of effective practices.

Schools will build their education plans around these priorities.

Board sets Capital Plan Priorities 

The Board adopted the following priorities for the 2021-2024 Three-Year Capital Plan:

  1. Barrhead Composite High School – Full Modernization and Right Sizing
  2. Westlock Elementary School – Partial Modernization

Busby School received approval to receive a replacement gymnasium and modernization.  Alberta Education has approved the use of Pembina Hills 2021/2022 CMR funding along with our 2020/2021 IMR funding for this project which equates to approximately 1.5 million dollars which would be the cost of the new gymnasium.

Transportation Assurance Report

Transportation Director Shantelle Haitel presented the 2020-2021 Transportation Assurance Report to the board, highlighting the measures they are taking in regards to drivers and the fleet. The report indicated there are over 2300 students who ride Pembina Hills buses with an average one-way ride time of 39 minutes. 

Some of the challenges presented in the report include COVID-19 demands which include sanitizing buses, contact tracing, and keeping up with the evolving information from AHS. Haitel also noted several red flashing light infractions between September 2020 and February 2021, in which drivers reported 42 fly-bys. Exterior cameras were installed on two buses, however RCMP still can’t seem to get clear enough information to issue fine. They’re also looking into using extended stop arms, which is being piloted in other provinces. 

Preschool and K-6 students to have priority for in-town busing

At their March 17th meeting, the board approved the transportation rates for 2021-2022. In-town busing applications will give priority to PUF/ Kindergarten to Grade 6 students.

Further clarification has been added to include that in-town bus applications for the PUF/K to Grade 6 students will be processed between May 1 and August 14. After that, if there is still room on the requested in-town bus, applications for students in Grades 7-12 will be considered. 

Check out the board meeting agenda and minutes for more information. 

The next school board meeting is at the Regional Office on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 starting at 9:00 a.m. Members of the public are invited to view a livestream of the meeting on our website