Welcome back everyone … students, parents and staff. I trust that you are well rested and re-energized for a new school year. I would especially welcome those of you new to Parkland School Division and thank you for choosing Parkland for your education and/or employment choice. We are a people organization and it is our mission to create learning environments through which children achieve enduring success.
As the new school year approaches, the Board is gearing up to tackle several challenges. With a budgetary shortfall from reduced and discontinued grants, the Board decided to draw down on operational reserves to minimize the impact in the classroom. Consequently, there have been no major cuts to teaching staff and minimal reductions in support staff. Of major concern to the Board is that with this use of reserve funds, our ability to weather further cuts in funding will be gone.
This year the Board and Administration will continue the system review process begun last year, with a focus on balancing enrolment pressure and ensuring the viability of smaller rural schools. Once again we will be asking you for your input and support.
The coming school year will see the province move forward on a new Education Act designed to provide a framework for transition of the system to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. In July, I had the privilege of attending the Canadian School Administrators Association conference on the 21st century learner. Along with the Superintendent of Schools, Tim Monds, and members of the division’s Future Planning Team, we learned clearly that today’s students learn in far different ways than previous generations and if we are to maximize their potential we will need to change the learning environment significantly. How these changes will alter our traditional 19th century industrial model system will begin to unfold in the coming year(s).
Again, welcome back to a new school year and together we will continue to make Parkland School Division a place where student learning success is paramount. On behalf of the Board, we look forward to working with all of our stakeholders.