November 2018: A Note From Tony

Hello Prairie South Friends,

I can’t believe that it is the end of November already; so many great things have happened in Prairie South since my last message in September that I don’t know where to begin!  Here are some highlights from the last couple of months:

  1. We’ve had a great start-up in our schools.  After some initial teacher juggling to match the student numbers that arrived at the beginning of the year, things have settled down and everywhere I go I see awesome learning happening.  Already this fall I have met kids from our schools who provide lots of evidence that teachers and other staff are doing great work.  I have watched our students visit with the Governor General, present data about student engagement to principals, receive scholarships at the provincial level, read their first chapter book, hold staff member’s babies, solve problems on the playground, demonstrate how farm machinery on a Hutterite Colony works, present innovation projects to trustees, work with SCCs, win and lose volleyball games with grace, lead community cultural events… too many things to list.  All of these accomplishments wouldn’t be possible for our students without caring staff who find ways to engage all kids in learning and life.  Thank you for your work!
  2. We’ve had some great sessions connected to local collective bargaining with our employee groups.  A tentative LINC agreement will be voted on by members of the PSTA in the next couple of weeks, and if that goes well, the Board will have a chance to ratify a local agreement for teachers in January.  We have met on several occasions with the CUPE bargaining team and I’m hopeful that it won’t be too long before we have an agreement that CUPE staff will be able to consider as well.  At our out-of-scope staff meeting today we talked about the Board’s process for ensuring that salary and benefits for our non-unionized staff were appropriate.  It will be great to get all of these pieces wrapped up so we can get back to the work of helping kids and families be successful!
  3. This fall Prairie South hosted the third annual provincial Graduation Rates Symposium, which saw teams from school divisions and First Nations from across Saskatchewan meet in Moose Jaw to discuss progress and plan for improved graduation outcomes for our students.  The provincial graduation rate in June, 2018 was higher than it has been for many years, and this is due in part to the great teachers, principals, consultants and superintendents who have been doing this work across the province.  I’m very proud that our staff is leading the province through their work on graduation improvement – I’ve shared with many people, including the Minister of Education this week, that Prairie South is ground zero for grad rates improvement in Saskatchewan; it’s something we should all be proud of.
  4. If you’re into numbers and reports, the 2017-2018 Annual Report and Audited Financial Statements will be up on the Prairie South website next week and will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly before Christmas.  This was a big project this fall for our office staff, and Natalie, Ron, and Steve put in some long hours as we learned about all of the things that Bernie Girardin used to do that we didn’t know about!  The Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan and our own auditors both complimented the school division on the detailed work that went into these reports – although this sometimes takes a back seat to teaching and learning, it is still important for the school division, and lots of school and division staff played a role.
  5. Several Board committees have been actively learning about the work of the staff this fall.  The Partnership and Teambuilding Committee met for an in-depth session with the SCC at Riverview Collegiate and is looking forward to a similar visit in Mossbank soon.  The Student Outcomes Committee has been working with a team of teachers and principals to see which parts of the Comprehensive Learning Framework are working well and which need to be reframed.  The Innovation Committee will have visited two schools before the Christmas break to see what staff and students are working on using the innovation funding provided last spring.  Finally, the Business, Infrastructure, and Governance Committee has been planning the facilities and catchment review that is part of the Prairie South Strategic Plan.  I have said before that I didn’t realize how much time trustees took to support kids, families, schools, and the school division until I came to Prairie South.  When you see Tim, Robert, Lew, Giselle, Brian, Shawn, Jan, Darcy, Al or Mary in your schools, please be sure to thank them for their service.

As you know, I love spending time in schools with staff and students.  If there is anything I can do to support your work, please let me know!

See you soon,

Tony

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