Superintendent’s Message – November 2013 #PSD70

Well, you’ll probably notice something a little different about my monthly message. Yes, we have changed things a bit – moving to a video message instead of a written message. And, there is a good reason for that. As an innovative school division we are always looking for new ways to communicate with parents, community and our staff. It’s our plan to use my monthly video messages this year to highlight many of the unique programs, successes and milestones we see across all PSD schools. It’s my hope that you’ll find my monthly messages informative and engaging. I look forward to you checking back each month to see what’s new and exciting in PSD.

Superintendent’s Message for October

Well, you’ll probably notice something a little different about my monthly message. Yes, we have changed things a bit – moving to a video message instead of a written message. And, there is a good reason for that. As an innovative school division we are always looking for new ways to communicate with parents, community and our staff. It’s our plan to use my monthly video messages this year to highlight many of the unique programs, successes and milestones we see across all PSD schools. It’s my hope that you’ll find my monthly messages informative and engaging. I look forward to you checking back each month to see what’s new and exciting in PSD.

Please check the video below for my October message and have a great month!

Tim

Dreams for the Future

Wow – what an amazing day to start the year in PSD! It was our hope to share an engaging, informative and entertaining morning with over 1,200 PSD staff on our Opening Day, and based on the feedback we have received from many staff across PSD we seem to have delivered on that goal.

Our program for the day PSD Talks was designed to bring together engaging and motivational staff and student speakers, dynamic and though-provoking videos, and captivating performances – all designed to inspire, motivate, and imagine future possibilities.  All of our speakers were from PSD, after all as David Weinberger said, “The smartest person in the room, is the room.”   We have amazing talent in PSD!

Most importantly, we wanted to connect all of these things back to our Division’s overarching vision that guides so much of the work we do to ensure that PSD is a place where imagination, creativity and exploration making learning exciting and all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

The Storify we have compiled from the social media activity on the #psd70 hashtag for the day, highlights just how engaged, motivated, and inspired our talented PSD staff are as we now embark on an exciting new school year. I would ask that as we settle in for the year ahead, take a moment to recall the ‘dreams for the future’ showcased by our PSD students in our new video and the vitally important role that we all play in helping those future dreams come true. Lastly, take a moment to think about your own dreams and aspirations for the year ahead and reflect on how this statement can apply to you: “Believe in your dreams and they may come true: believe in yourself and they will come true.” Have a wonderful year!

Why Open the World

I had the privilege of presenting at CASA 2013 yesterday with George Couros.  We shared the work underway in PSD70 as it relates to our motto of “Where the World Opens Up”.  The theme of the conference is “Pedagogy to Technology: Hardware to Headwear”.

One of the slides I spoke to was “Start with the Why”.  I shared statements like the following:

  • We know that this archaic system of education we inherited needs to change to meet the needs of the 21 century learner

  • There has been a lot of chat about the 21 century learner…preparing for the 21 century learner…well it is 2013…time to move on!


Most recently the new Alberta Education Ministerial Order speaks to

  • Bringing the work Of Inspiring Education to life
  • Every student will develop competencies of
  • Being an Engaged thinker
  • Being an Ethical citizen with an entrepreneurial spirit
  • All contributing to a strong and prosperous economy and society
  • Will be less emphasis on content and more on skills, values and attitudes that will make students successful in the future

The ministerial order signals a change in the education system resulting from a re-examination of student needs, how we teach students, what we teach them, how to engage communities and how to use research to inform change

In Parkland School Division we were thrilled how the order aligned to the work we are currently doing.

Upon reflection there is an even greater reason for ensuring our education system is progressive and innovative.  A system that is prepared to meet the needs of the 21st Century Learner and the world that is opening up so quickly.  The reason for me I became a Grandpa!

On Saturday June 29 my daughter Chelsey and her husband Jordan had a baby boy!  Nathaniel weighed in at 7lbs and my wife Patty and I are absolutely over the top.  We have four amazing children I spoke about during opening day this past year and  I talked about their dreams and how that aligned to our new vision which has a focus on dreaming.  They have completed k-12 schooling and have three university degrees, and one is currently completing her pharmacy degree.  With the addition of Nate, I reflected as a new grandparent on the importance of getting it right in education for our children.  While it has always been a passion of mine that we do what is right for our kids and prepare them for an ever changing world, when I saw that new baby, the passion grew twofold!

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Becoming a grandpa has reminded me of what our young parents want for their child.  I want my grandson to be successful, challenged, welcomed in a safe world that is open promoting great citizenship.  Schools should stoke his imagination, creativity and give him the opportunity to explore and dream!  While we also need to continue to ensure students have skills in literacy and numeracy, let’s not be afraid ask challenging questions and dream big.  We really do have the opportunity to touch the future in education.

Message From the Board Chair (June 2013)

Quite simply, 2012-2013 was a remarkable year for Parkland School Division (PSD). As a Division, we achieved a great deal together and we have much to celebrate. As I have the opportunity to meet Trustees from around the province I am continually amazed by how other divisions are aware of what we are doing, and how they see us as a leader in so many areas – youth resiliency, innovation in teaching and learning, community engagement, and our learning coach program – to name but a few, are all initiatives where PSD is seen as a provincial and national innovator. I am often asked how we do it, and my response is fairly simple – we have incredibly talented and capable people who are supported by a culture that embraces excellence, innovation and risk-taking.

But, beyond just supporting a culture of innovation and risk-taking, our Board, to its credit, has strongly advanced a philosophy where everyone can make a meaningful contribution to education, and everyone has the right to know what decisions we are making and to have their voices heard. Actively engaging our community and education stakeholders has been a significant priority for this Board, as has being transparent with the decisions that we make regarding public education. I’m pleased to report that in 2012-2013, we continued to make significant strides in delivering on this philosophy.

We have been committed to community engagement and feedback through our System Review which has previously evaluated our facility capacity needs in Spruce Grove, and this year examined enrolment trends and facility requirements for west end schools (Phase III), while also examining Stony Plain attendance boundaries (Phase IV). The feedback we have received from our stakeholders through our System Review is very valuable as we plan for the future in PSD.

As a Board, we are keenly aware how important it is to walk the talk – and when it comes to demonstrating our commitment to transparency we have taken a number of significant steps this year.  Most recently, as of June 7, our Board began to post our expenses publicly on our website. Expenses from our Trustees and two of our senior administrators will be posted regularly. This information provides details on travel, accommodation, meal and hospitality expenses, and is a part of Parkland School Division’s continued commitment to transparency.

As we look to the future for what 2013-2014 has in store, we know that there are challenges before us. One of the biggest challenges we will face is the lack of stable and predictable funding from the Government of Alberta. As we initially reported in March, PSD is facing budget cuts as a result of the 2013 budget. Our preliminary budgeted revenues for 2013-2014 are $110.4 million. This represents a 2.81% decrease from 2012-2013. While some difficult decisions will have to be made as a result of these funding cuts, we will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of children.

While we do have challenges ahead, I’m also pleased to report that we will not rest on our laurels and past successes – we will continue to move forward with a bold vision for the future. We are planning today in order to meet the needs of tomorrow.

In May, we welcomed the announcement by the Government of Alberta that PSD is the recipient of a new K-9 school for the City of Spruce Grove. The new K-9 school, designed to accommodate between 750-900 students is anticipated for completion in 2016. Since that announcement, we have busily been moving forward with an innovative concept for a ‘community learning centre’ that would expand the possibilities of what the new K-9 school could be. This vision for a future-focused ‘community learning centre’ would include a K-9 school, wellness centre and an innovation studio. We are actively working with our government and community partners to make this dream a reality.

As a Board, we were also pleased to ease some of the growth pressures in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain schools with the addition of seven new modular classrooms for next school year for Brookwood (3), Millgrove (2) and High Park (3) schools. With some creativity, we were able to re-profile one additional modular from our existing inventory for use at High Park School.

These are indeed exciting times in PSD. We have a great deal to be proud of as an organization for what we have achieved together, and our future holds much promise. While we do have some challenges before us, I have no doubt that with the dedicated and capable team including our Senior Executive, administrators and staff we have another success year before us. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank-you for your contributions. Have a happy and safe summer holiday. I look forward to seeing everyone again as we kick off our 2013-2014 school year in August.

If you have any questions, please direct them to rgilchrist@psd70.ab.ca or TheBoard@psd70.ab.ca

Richard Gilchrist
Board Chair
Parkland School Division