Board meeting highlights - August 20, 2020

Board meeting highlights - August 20, 2020

Superintendent Dr. Paul Bennett announces retirement
Dr. Paul Bennett, Superintendent of Schools for Peace River School Division (PRSD) officially provided his notice of retirement to the board of trustees at the regular board meeting held yesterday. Bennett is set to retire on August 31, 2021. “Dr. Bennett is a true advocate for our students, staff, communities and public education - he will be greatly missed” says Board Chair Darren Kuester. “He consistently demonstrates passion and dedication for student learning and fosters a culture of excellence, innovation and collaboration.” Bennett’s 25 year career in PRSD began in 1994 as the principal at Worsley Central School and in 1997 he was appointed principal at Fairview Jr Sr High School (FHS). During his leadership role at FHS, he coordinated and led the opening of the Fairview and Area Learning Store. In 2007 Bennett was appointed as PRSD’s Deputy Superintendent and in 2009, was appointed as the Superintendent of Schools for PRSD. “I’ve been fortunate to work amongst some of the most inspiring and dedicated students, staff, trustees, community members, and organizations during my time in the division” says Bennett. “I feel grateful for the learning, growth and collaboration with students, staff, families and the board of trustees – I share my accomplishments with the outstanding people that I have been gifted to be surrounded by and I extend my thanks to everyone for their support and dedication to education. I feel grateful to feel supported in my passion for education and trusted with opportunities to take the steps required to impact and inspire innovation and change in the best interest of students.”  (view media release here)

Covid-19 update from Superintendent Bennett
PRSD Superintendent Paul Bennett updated the board on the division’s progress respecting school re-entry as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bennett shared that work is underway to prepare schools for re-opening with the deep cleaning and decluttering of schools, training for bus drivers and janitorial staff, and the placing of directional arrows in hallways, informational posters and plexiglass dividers in several PRSD schools. Bennett noted delays in receiving cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Bennett shared a summary of information collected from parents regarding their intentions for the upcoming school year.  In early August, Superintendent Bennett invited parents that were seeking other options than in-person classes to call him directly. Superintendent Bennett, PRSD’s Senior Leadership team and all School Principals will take part in a virtual meeting on August 24, 2020 to discuss at-home learning and a host of topics surrounding the re-entry to school.

Board waives trustee per diem rate increases
The board of trustees reviewed the Consumer Price Index and voted to waive an increase in trustee per diem rates for the 2020-2021 school year.

Board reviews business and projects carried out over the summer
Secretary Treasurer, Rhonda Freeman and John Przybylski, Director of Support Services provided the board with an update of business carried out over the summer that included modifications to PRSD’s Central Operations building, tendering for the new transportation shop, scheduled roofing projects, site paving at Worsley Central School, and site upgrades at EE Oliver Elementary School and Fairview Jr Sr High School. 
Facilities staff have also been working with schools to get safety protocols in place such as directional arrows, hand sanitizers, plexiglass safety shield dividers, posters and cleaning supplies. Przybylski noted delays in several projects due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Board researches racism sensitivity training  
As per the boards’ request at the June regular board meeting, Corporate Secretary Rhonda Freeman provided information regarding options for racism sensitivity training. Trustees reviewed proposed options and directed management to bring back further information regarding cost, scheduling and participants.  At the June regular board meeting, trustees had a discussion regarding racism sensitivity training and the boards desire to have a detailed anti-racism plan developed for PRSD.

Trustees look forward to upcoming meeting with MLA Dan Williams
Trustees discussed agenda items for their September 14, 2020 meeting with Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River constituency. Agenda topics for the meeting include the shortfall of government funding to cover Covid-19 supplies and expenses in schools and the desire for improved communication from the Alberta Government. MLA Dan Williams initiated the meeting with PRSD and the board of trustees appreciates the opportunity to meet to discuss educational topics.

PRSD to host Friends of Education and Edwin Parr Teacher Award presentations
The board reviewed the agenda for the upcoming Zone 1 Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) Friends of Education and Edwin Parr Teacher Award celebration to be held at PRSD Central Operations on September 23, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony will be modified to ensure physical distancing and award recipients and board members will be given the option to attend virtually if they so choose.  The ceremony celebrates recipients nominated by trustees from Zone 1 for the Edwin Parr First Year Teacher Award and board nominees for the Friends of Education Award.

Parents Matter Appreciation Week set for November 16-20, 2020
The board of trustees declared November 16 – 20, 2020 as Parents Matter Appreciation Week. The special week unique to PRSD allows students to thank and highlight parent and guardians for the vital part they play in student learning, success, and well-being. In addition to various events and activities schools plan to honor parents, every student is provided with specially created “Parents Matter” cards to express their appreciation for their parents. Superintendent Bennett noted that depending on the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, celebrations may look different this school year.