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

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