Thursday, 23 March 2017 04:06

Chinook School Division presents overview of 2015-16 school year at annual meeting

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Chinook School Division Board Chair Larry Caswell speaks during the annual meeting in Swift Current, March 13. Chinook School Division Board Chair Larry Caswell speaks during the annual meeting in Swift Current, March 13.

The Chinook School Division achieved a budget surplus of $1.3 million during the 2015-16 school year, even though the organization expected to have a budget deficit of $2.7 million.


Details about the school division’s finances and educational achievements during 2015-16 were presented during the annual meeting at the Chinook Education Centre in Swift Current, March 13.
According to Chinook School Division Chief Financial Officer Rod Quintin, the financial surplus at the end of the fiscal year was a result of lower than expected expenditure.
“About half of that amount, $1.9 million, is just money that we did not spend that we had in our plan,” he said after the meeting. “It was driven by two main factors. One was our lower than anticipated costs for energy, which would be related to mild winter, lower prices. The other would have been our lower-than-anticipated cost for in particular teachers, where we didn’t experience the perhaps extraordinary type of teacher absences that might come from a series of long-term illness leaves or something like that.”
On the revenue side, the school division benefitted from receiving $1.6 million for the addition of four classrooms at École Centennial School. A total of $11.1 million was budgeted for capital facility improvements during the reporting year.
Division funded capital projects included accessibility improvements at Central School, portable classroom relocation at Fairview School, the addition and renovation of the former Kin School to create a new home for Maverick School, bus shop upgrades in Swift Current, Shaunavon, Maple Creek and Fox Valley, and a bus fuelling site at Waldeck.
Capital projects through provincial grants and preventative maintenance repair (PMR) funding included the roof replacement and crawlspace remediation at Leader School, the École Centennial School classroom addition, Eastend School roof replacement, Herbert School roof and boiler replacement, Frontier School furnace upgrade, and the Swift Current Comprehensive High School building management upgrade.
The PMR funding provides the school division with greater flexibility to carry out projects to upgrade and maintain buildings.
“In the past we would have had to apply for funding, waited for whatever number of months or years for the government to approve funding, and then do the job,” he said. “Now we get funding. We are given that funding on the condition that we use it for things like repairing roofs and then we can select on our time frame when we would make that repair. So we would prevent that collateral damage that you might see by having your roof leak and stop that extra cost. We can also time the roofing project in such a way that we can maybe get the best advantage in terms of pricing.”
Chinook School Division Board Chair Larry Caswell considered the ongoing success of the programs to improve student outcomes for reading, writing and math to be a highlight.
“We were seeing the culmination of our literacy and numeracy on math drive essentially,” he said. “We had really good results. So it's hard not to be pleased.”
He referred to the relocation of Maverick School to an upgraded and larger facility as another highlight of the 2015-16 school year.
“The Maverick School's opening was of course a big deal for us,” he said. “It's a program that literally hundreds of kids have graduated that probably the great majority would not have without it. So we take pride in their accomplishments.”
Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo is pleased with the division’s success to achieve learning goals during the 2015-16 school year.
The Chinook School Division's on-time graduation rate of 84 per cent exceeded the provincial average of 76 per cent. The school division's extended time graduation rate (students who graduate within five years of entering Grade 10) was 91 per cent, which was higher than the provincial average of 83 per cent.
While 69 per cent of Grade 10-12 students in Chinook School Division have eight or more high school credits, the provincial average is 61 per cent. The school division's average final marks for the eight core high school subject areas are also higher than the provincial average.
“I think our kids are getting an outstanding base and foundation in the elementary school and while there is some leakage through middle years, for the most part, that's being maintained,” he said. “So then when those kids come into high school they are working off a very strong foundation. A lot of our schools are very small high schools in Chinook and those kids get very individualized attention.”
The implementation of the math intervention program resulted in another two per cent increase and 77 per cent of students were at grade level in math.
The implementation of Saskatchewan Reads during the 2015-16 school year showed positive results, but it will require ongoing effort to achieve and maintain goals. The Chinook School Division's target is that 90 per cent of students will be meeting or exceeding expectations in reading by June 2020.
For the 2015-16 period the reading levels for Grade 3 students were already at 88 per cent, but there is a need to focus on instructional strategies and student learning in Grade 6 to 9.
“In the middle years all the great gains that we're making in the elementary seem to disappear,” he noted. “Now is that because middle year kids are wired so much differently? Probably part of it, but I think the other piece is that as adults we tend to assume they know how to read now and we back off a little bit in pursuing and pushing that reading component with those kids. Now that we've recognized that, we do see some things that we can do to keep it up front and centre so that the great gains being made in the lower grade levels are not lost through those middle years.”
The attendance at this annual meeting of the Chinook School Division was higher than in previous years.
Choo-Foo felt the larger turnout was a result of the provincial government's review of educational governance and the recent report by Dan Perrins, which presented four governance options to the government.
“My sense is that when the provincial government asked for the consultation period around transformational change and the Perrins report, people started to get engaged with the education sector again and it is very powerful and very meaningful to them,” Choo-Foo said. “So because they’ve reengaged with the sector, I think it’s quite natural that when the board holds an annual meeting to report on their progress over the previous year, that engaged people would want to know and have more information.”

Read 942 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 March 2017 09:30
Matthew Liebenberg

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