Looking to Build the Power to Enrich

Our Work Ahead

Rocky View Schools 2011-2014 Three Year Plan plan aims to “build the power to enrich” by focusing on four main drivers: ensuring universal accessibility, focusing on personalized, authentic-based learning, building 21st Century competencies, and accelerating research and innovation. These drivers illuminate the need to prototype new models of learning, to breathe new life into the K-12 curriculum, to inspire learners to construct and deepen their knowledge and understanding, and to embrace emerging technologies to expand our learning environments. Most importantly, this Three Year Plan highlights the importance of everyone concerned about education – not just students, parents and educators - to deepen our networking power to encourage ‘collective intelligence’ and ‘distributed innovation’ that will extend learning beyond the walls of our classrooms, our school system, and our communities. In doing so, we will provide the catalyst for today’s learners to create economically strong, vibrant, and productive communities in the future.

As bright as the jurisdiction’s horizon appears, RVS knows further challenges have yet to be faced and that substantive improvements will need to be achieved. Looking ahead, to succeed at building “the Power to Enrich", RVS will face the difficulty of:

Accommodating Students

On May 24, 2011, the province approved RVS' top three capital projects, which included a middle school and a high school in Airdrie and a multi-level school in Chestermere. These projects are scheduled for a 2014 opening. To address its immediate needs Rocky View Schools passed a contingency plan in December, 2010, for nineteen new portable classrooms, the relocation of twelve portable classrooms, the construction of an outreach facility for the Chestermere sector (required because of a lease termination), a 150 capacity permanent school in northwest Airdrie and a 125 capacity school for west Airdrie. On June 2, 2010, RVS received approval to sell the former Alberta Transportation Building in Airdrie. The proceeds from the sale of this building are being used to fund the contingency plan projects up to September 2012: eight new portables, the outreach facility in Chestermere and the 100 capacity modular classroom spaces  for the northwest Airdrie school. Despite the approval of these projects, RVS anticipates its student population growth will continue to exceed its ability to accommodate students in a number of high growth areas, namely Chestermere, Airdrie, Cochrane, and Langdon. Government consideration regarding this issue is needed.

Serving the Diverse Needs of Students

The province’s decision to freeze special education grants continues to place tremendous strain on staff. With over 12 percent of students requiring special needs’ services, considerable time and resources were needed to develop Individual Program Plans and identify academic interventions, curricular adaptations and modifications, as well as undertaking training in the use of assistive technologies. Although the adoption of a new continuum of service delivery model is increasing capacity among teachers, teaching assistants, school administrators and divisional staff in meeting the diverse needs of all learners, years of insufficient funding and a cap on the number of external placements available led the jurisdiction to request an audit of Rocky View Schools’ severe disabilities profile for the fall of 2011/12. In order to prepare each file according to Alberta Education’s audit specifications, numerous hours have been spent at the school and jurisdictional levels to prepare almost 200 student files. It is hoped the results of this audit, along with the release of Alberta Education’s Action on Inclusion funding model, will allow the jurisdiction to provide students with the supports needed. Correspondingly, it is anticipated stakeholder satisfaction related to services in this area will climb to acceptable levels.

Managing Change & Resources

Modifying teaching practices to meet the needs of the 21st Century learner continues to place heavy demands on schools in terms of both human and resource costs. With the eye of moving all K- 4 schools to a one-to-one environment, RVS anticipates that schools will continued to face the challenge of stretching finite resources to provide staff with professional learning in 21st C instructional practices, as well as emerging technologies. Although all schools met RVS’ 2008 contemporary technological standards, which outlined broadband wireless capabilities, teacher laptops, and projectors/sound mounted in all classrooms, RVS’ move to a one-to-one format will require more bandwidth, as more and more teachers publish using web2 technology. Additionally, the creation of Universal Learning Environments will place greater demand for laptops needed by students in schools. Further, teacher laptops are now three years old and need some work to be upgraded and are expected to be functional for only another year or two.

Building 21st C Learning Structures

To support the needs of all learners, RVS will turn its attention to building individual learning profiles and a reporting structure consistent with the needs of 21st C learners. This complex work has been expedited by the Provincial Approach to Student Information (PASI) Initiative, which will require RVS to introduce a new jurisdictional student information systems that allows the PASI framework to interface seamlessly. Given RVS' desire to build an SIS that enables today's educators to make timely decisions that impact student performance, while creating a collaborative environment for parents, teachers and students to work together, time to develop and implement its choice of system, PowerSchool,  was compounded. Finding revenues to fund this initiative also taxed RVS' limited resource base.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learners

As illustrated through Alberta Education’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) APORI Overall Summary, across the province greater attention needs to be given to the success and progress of FNMI Learners.To address the low performance standards on PAT’s for FNMI students, RVS will need to increase its focus in literacy through pull-out cultural programs at the elementary level, as well as provide teaching staff with access to cultural literacy resources and professional learning opportunities. A further goal will be to have RVS' FNMI working advisory committee devise strategies to increase parent engagement.

Embracing Parents and the Community as Learning Partners

Despite high levels of satisfaction among parents with the jurisdiction’s programs and services, RVS needs to work more closely with schools to bring parents of the Generation X era into the jurisdiction’s 21st Century fold. While the use of technology as an instructional tool has gained great momentum among students and staff over the past two years, many of the digital technologies emerging to support instruction are not well understood by parents. Ongoing communication, live demonstrations of technology as a learning tool, and advice on how parents can bridge the gap between home and school will be imperative. Similarly, RVS desires for all members of its communities to show their value of public education by playing an active, meaningful role. Establishing the linkages for businesses and community to access schools and RVS classrooms is anticipated to place heavy demands on RVS' resources.

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