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Thursday, 11 May 2017 08:00

PRSD trustees add Grade 4 program to New Brigden School

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With a board motion, New Brigden School officially got back its Grade 4 programming for the 2017/18 school year, and will see the Kindergarten students become more integrated into the school in the coming year.

At the April board meeting, trustees voted to close the grades 4-6 and junior high programming at New Brigden School. In a separate motion they had agreed to send a letter to Alberta’s Minister of Education requesting just Grade 4 be opened back up and offered starting in the upcoming school year. Even during that meeting there was some confusion around the process to re-open programs that have been closed in schools, but administration indicated it would be easier than closing programs which has to be done by three grade levels at a time.
“There is a well-defined process for closing a program,” said Superintendent Brian Andjelic at the May 9 regular board meeting. “It turns out adding programs to schools is easy, we simply need a (board) motion clarifying that intent.”
Trustees were presented with a document showing the estimated enrolment at New Brigden School this fall if Grade 4 were to be offered. It showed seven students in Kindergarten, two students in Grade 1, one student in Grade 2, two students in Grade 3 and one student in Grade 4 for a total of 13 students. That increases each year, according to estimates, to 16 in 2018/19; 19 in 2019/20; 21 in 2020/21 and drops to 19 in 2021/22, but that year didn’t include an estimate for Kindergarten.
“From a developmental viewpoint, the reasons to include Grade 4 make sense,” explained Andjelic. “The transition from Grade 3 to Grade 4 can be tough for some kids. The expectations do go up a bit ...”
Trustee Graeme Dennis pointed out it could be a little more work for the teacher of the class who is now going to have to work with Grade 4 curriculum as well as that of grades 1-3, but he felt those concerns had been addressed by Andjelic.
“It will require monitoring for sure to make sure it’s in the best interests of the students,” added Chair Stuart Angle.
Trustee Lucille Hertz moved PRSD add Grade 4 programming to New Brigden School beginning in the 2017/18 school year. The board voted in favour of the motion.
After the vote, Ryan Boser, secretary-treasurer, explained the division will send a letter to Alberta’s Education Minister explaining the motions of the board at the April and May meetings around the closure of divisions 3 and 4 and the addition of adding in Grade 4 programming. There is no formal approval required from the Minister to add in the programming, other than notification in writing from the division.
At the May 9 meeting, the board also discussed a written request from the society operating the private ECS program at New Brigden School.
They requested the class be allowed to operate in the school, moving out of the portable they currently occupy as well as the Kindergarten students be integrated into the school’s programming.
The society will pay the school division the average cost of a 0.3 full-time equivalent teaching position.
Trustees were in favour of accommodating the group for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 school years.
Andjelic explained the move means the division will administer the staffing of the Kindergarten portion of the ECS program. The society will continue to do the administrative work and apply for funding from Alberta Education.
They will turn over some of that funding so the Kindergarten-aged students can be part of the school’s programming in the same classroom as the older students. Those students younger than Kindergarten aged will have space in the main school building rather than in the current portable they occupy.
The portable, which has no running water, will be decommissioned at a future date.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor