May 2018: A Note From Tony

Hello Prairie South Friends,

Spring has arrived on the Prairies!  For me, the warmer weather seems to make everything easier, and I hope it is the same for you.

Spring brings some excitement as we start planning for next year, and we’ve had a couple of significant events in the past couple of weeks that I’d like to tell you about.  Last Tuesday, the Board of Education passed the 2018-2019 budget, which gives us guidance related to allocating resources to accomplish the mission of the Board over the next year.  While the Board had very limited new resources to work with, they weren’t faced with a reduction for the first time in several budgets which made this a more rewarding process than it has been in several years.  The Board’s focus was on supports for students through additional teachers and EA staff, and they worked to minimize staff reductions in all areas after significant cuts in previous years.  The Board committed to a long term (12 year) school bus replacement strategy and authorized spending of nearly $3 million dollars on facility improvements.  While there are always more needs than the resources available, it is nice to see a plan that will allow us to meet some additional needs in the coming year.  This is demanding work for Trustees, as they work hard to learn about particular needs for children and families, and they should be commended for their commitment to the process and to the school division.

As you know, our friend Bernie Girardin will be retiring this summer after 10 years as the Superintendent of Business/CFO at Prairie South.   While the office won’t be the same without him, we are excited that he will have some additional time to spend with his wife Michelle and their son, Matt.  Bernie has a ton of interests from music to sports to dog training, so we know he won’t be bored!  Last week we hired Steve Robitaille as our new CFO; Steve will be joining our team on August 1st.  Steve brings some great credentials as a teacher and as a business leader.  In his current role at Briercrest College, Steve is Chair of the Department of Business, Leadership, and Management and teaches a variety of courses including Financial Accounting and Business Law.  Steve has worked as a consultant for the Business Development Bank of Canada, and has had a variety of other interesting local, national, and international work experience.  In 2014, in the most recent step on his educational journey, Steve earned an MBA with a Finance Concentration from the University of Wales.  In addition to several other educational accomplishments, Steve is a graduate of Riverview Collegiate in Moose Jaw.  Please join me in welcoming Steve to Prairie South!

Even though much of my focus is looking forward to next year, there are some great things happening right now in Prairie South.  At the May meeting of the Board of Education, Trustees asked me to pass along their thanks to the staff who volunteer their time for badminton and Track and Field, and to the countless other extra-curricular offerings that we offer in our schools.  Many of our Trustees are volunteers themselves with one organization or another, and they understand the time commitment that working with a team or a club entails.  Prairie South provided a ton of support for the Atamiskākēwak Gathering in Moose Jaw last month, and I was happy to see so many schools engaged in learning about reconciliation – special thanks to our facilities crew for moving chairs and bleachers, to Amanda McCann for being an amazing host for a student group from Fort Qu’Appelle, to Heather and Sandy for sorting through the transportation details, and to the many schools who hosted events.  The Riverview Collegiate Treaty Four club have been recognized by a PrairieAction Youth Leadership award.  This is a prestigious western Canadian award, and the RVCI students are the second Prairie South group to win the award in the past two years.  We are very proud of their leadership!

I’m looking forward to some exciting plans that the Board has in place for the fall connected to innovation, infrastructure, and community engagement.  While these won’t be actually happening until the fall, there is lots of planning underway for them right now, and this is interesting work.  I hope the spring weather finds you healthy and ready for the last couple of months of the school year.  Summer is just around the corner!

See you soon,

Tony

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