Challenges Ahead

Accommodating Students

On May 24, 2011 Rocky View Schools received approval of a new 5-8 school for Airdrie, a new 9-12 school for Airdrie and a new K-9 school for Chestermere. Slated to open September, 2014, these facilities are being built in communities where utilization rates exceed 90 percent at the K-8/9 levels. Although the additional 2400 student spaces will be sufficient to accommodate RVS space crunch by 2014, the relief will be short lived. By 2022 RVS' student population is projected to increase by almost 9500 students. As outlined by Census Canada in 2011, approximately 22.6 percent of the population in Rocky View Schools are school age, compared to 18.8 percent for the province and 17.3 percent for the City of Calgary.
The growth in population is more significant in the centres of Airdrie, Chestermere and Cochrane:

  • Airdrie – grew by 47.1 percent between 2006 and 2011 to 42,564 and has a growth projection to 70,000 by 2025.
  • Chestermere – grew by 49.4 percent between 2006 and 2011 to 14,824 and has a growth projection of 47,415 by 2036.
  • Cochrane – grew by 27.8 percent between 2006 and 2011 to 17,580 and has a growth projection of 31,000 by 2020.

Managing Change

Managing second order change to meet the needs of the 21st Century learner continues to place heavy demands on schools and the Education Centre staff. Through RVS' new accountability framework, which outlining the delivery of four quarterly reports to the Board on the progress and implementation of RVS' Three Year Plan, the launch of Year 1 of 3 has taken root slowly, with many staff/working groups assigned one or more 3YP strategies, reporting that preparatory discussions, research, resource building, and the necessary procedural development have been areas of major focus over the past eight months. The identification of data sets and required monitoring systems, too, have been important steps in ensuring the system builds towards a meaningful evaluation of the plan’s implementation. Due to the density and slow progress of the plan's implementation, the Superintendent of Schools has rolled forward Year One into Year Two, allowing schools and staff to extend their work to the 2012-2013 school year.

Preparing for One-to-One Environments

With the eye of moving all K- 5 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 four years old and need some work to be upgraded and are expected to be functional for only another year or two.

Implementation of Policy HK Assessment & Communication of Student Learning

A review of schools' implementation of Policy HK Assessment and Communication of Student Learning outlined the need for a jurisdictional action plan and professional learning plan related to the policy be established, as the awareness, adherence, and school-based adoption of HK is too varied across the jurisdiction. As a result, all schools have been requested to outline school-based action plan through their  2012/2013 School Education Plans, as well as outline the professional learning needs of its staff in this area. All School Education Plans will be reviewed by the Superintendent over the months of May and June 2012.

Building 21st C Learning Structures

To support the needs of all learners, RVS has built an individual learning profile prototype 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 required 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, has been compounded. Regardless, schools and RVS' IT Department have expedited the implementation of the system, focusing on the development of jurisdictional and customized reports and data scheduling.

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 four 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.

Effective Advocacy

 

While appreciative of having recently received three new facilities to address the jurisdiction’s student population explosion, as well as having found relief through the introduction of the new Inclusive Education Funding grant, RVS Board of Trustees continues to believe that current investments should reflect a balance between community and government expectations, thereby ensuring success for all learners. Against the backdrop of Alberta’s plans to transform education to respond to the needs of today’s 21st C learner, in February 2012 Trustees sat down to identify the jurisdiction’s top priority positions for the government to consider. Over the course of the 2012/2013 school year, Trustees will need to continue to ask the government to consider: Securing Predictable and Sustainable Capital Funding (primary consideration); Reviewing Alberta Education’s Funding Framework; Building Awareness and Value for Public Education; Instituting 21st C Assessment Practices; Securing Regional Child and Family Supports; Giving Parents the Choice of Full Day Kindergarten; and Establish Fixed Boundaries for All Jurisdictions.

 

Era of Diminishing POM Revenues

The provincial government’s lack of recognition to Plant Operations and Maintenance (POM) grant levels has resulted in both maintenance and custodial services being dramatically reduced. In 2012/13
caretaking services will be cut by 37.3 hours/day across the jurisdiction, as well many of RVS' head building operators will now serve multiple sites. Insufficient revenues also led to three Maintenance  positions being reduced, resulting in the loss of RVS' Carpentry Department.

 

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