Peggy Lawson, assessment co-ordinator for the South East Cornerstone Public School Division, provided trustees with some important data they could use to formulate future plans in the division that caters to about 8,200 students in the southeast corner of the province.
Lawson said this was the third annual data gathering project among the 28 eligible school divisions around the province. In the local division, the superintendents are charged with the responsibility of gathering the raw numbers and information that is then put into workable forms for the use of administration and the trustees.
Lawson noted that all school divisions in the province now have constitutions and codes of conduct. She said the Cornerstone had a 100 per cent compliance in such areas as engagement and support, school planning and participating in opportunities supplied by the division while the rest of the provincial divisions reported participation rates of between 61 and 76 per cent. Cornerstone's First Nations representation record though, was at zero per cent, she noted while it was between 41 and 51 per cent across the province.
Lawson went on to suggest that Cornerstone needed not only First Nations representation at various tables but also representatives from recent immigrant families and those engaged in programs for new arrivals such as English as another language groups.
The trustees spent some time discussing their yearly allocation of $2,000 for each school community council and the request from some councils to hold some funds over from year to the next to help them pay for larger projects.
The trustees discussed the need to provide ongoing training for new school community council members as they come aboard in each school.
"We have seen some changes incorporated already since SCCs were originally formed three years ago," said Lawson.
The challenges, the trustees said, were in retaining SCC members since so many people had little time for total involvement in school planning.
"They are more than a fund-raising group now, not like the former parent groups," said chairwoman Carol Flynn. She and others noted that some SCCs are suffering from lack of leadership capacity.
Trustee Janet Foord said it was important to impress upon the principals of the schools that their role is key in how important SCCs become and that they are to serve them as mentors.
"SCCs aren't like parent-teacher groups of the past, raising money to buy playground equipment and selling hot dogs," said trustee Audrey Trombley. "There is the new role for them and it's imperative that the SCC members and administrators understand the roles that SCCs play."
Marc Casavant, director of education for Cornerstone, noted that as the new academic year has unfolded they needed to do a little modification in staffing assignments to adjust to student increases in some areas of the division.
The trustees and Casavant also spent some time dealing with a boundary change proposal in the Wapella region that cleaned up some "sketchy areas," that weren't clearly defined.
The boundary was redrawn with the co-operation of the neighbouring Prairie Valley School Division and it was in support of a request to redraw the boundary. The application to establish the new boundary has been forwarded to the Ministry of Education for their approval.
Casavant and some trustees discussed impending cuts in finances for the school division and they also learned that the provincial government will be clawing back most of the savings the school divisions realized during the three days that the teachers were on strike or locked out last summer.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a $20,000 budget allocation to Hillcrest School in Estevan to support their morning breakfast and nutrition program, matching the amount allocated to the program by the Estevan United Way.