Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Board outcomes- Feb. 24 meeting

The Waldorf Program was approved for start-up in September. A large contingent of supporters, including families with young children and trained Waldorf staff, were in the audience to hear the news and were obviously pleased. The program has a built-in network of support and two preschool programs to feed into the Kindergarten class. 28 families have already committed to the program and there is a possibility that with the release of the news, there may be sufficient registration to offer to Kindergarten classes in the fall. The program will open in Avonmore on the southside. I asked questions about impact on enrolment in neighbouring schools. It appears this will be minimal due to the fact we are starting in kindergarten and the families who are currently following a Waldorf approach are doing so through the Argyll Centre (homeschooling). Trustee Gibson asked about impacts on transportation and the scatter graph that was done to see where families were located indicated that Avonmore is a central location.

The motion to extend the public's speaking time to 3 minutes and remove the requirement for advance registration with the board secretary was referred to the Planning and Policy Committee to look at implications. It will return to public board with recommendations from that committee. I sensed a general level of support for the extended time, but some concern around the logistics of the sign-up sheet.

We heard presentations on:
J. Percy Page re: integration of ESL students
CUPE 3550 re: budget considerations
A new graduation certificate/planning tool for all students

Monday, February 23, 2009

Minister of Education- Student Advisory

The Minister of Education, The Honourable Dave Hancock, has set up a Student Advisory. Check out the webpage at

I've copied some of the text here:
Speak Out is an opportunity for Alberta’s youth to share their experiences and ideas and to help the people who make decisions about our schools understand the issues that are important to us. We can make a difference by getting involved. Let’s define the issues for ourselves and identify the solutions. Our voices deserve to be in the mix. It’s our future!

Students are encouraged to submit their application for the Annual Student Conference and the Minister's Student Advisory Council. Deadline for applications is April 3, 2009.

Students can register, log-in and get active on the site! Go to DISCUSS or BLOG. Each month, student feedback will be sought on a particular topic. This month's featured discussion is "Where is the world in your education?"

They are also hosting a VIDEO CONTEST. Deadline to submit is March 31. Speak Out and you could have the chance to win some incredible prizes!

I really admire this initiative to reach out and engage youth. It makes so much sense to talk directly to the students and to give them a powerful voice in their education. Whatever we own through hard work, we cherish. Whatever we build, we protect. Whatever we love, we work harder for....and so it goes!

Report on Edmonton's Children and Youth 2008

"Success by 6 and the City of Edmonton's Child Friendly Edmonton Initiative want to help ensure that every child and youth in Edmonton has the chance to reach his or her potential."

That is the opening sentence of the Executive Summary for this year's report. The report covers health (including special reports on healthy body weight and mental health), demographics, early learning and care, educations, risk behaviours, community supports and interventions, and leisure.

One of the most alarming stats appears on page vi-
"In 2007, 2,156 women an children were admitted to women's shelters in the Edmonton area, and a further 6, 531 women and children were turned away. This is 2.8 admissions and 8.4 turnaways per 1,000 women and children. The turnaway rate is increasing."

I have sent a couple of emails off to see how this problem might be addressed. Every woman and child deserves to have a safe place.

I encourage you to read the report. It is available at the following link:

And talk to your community, councillor and MLA about issues that concern you.

Children need all our efforts to ensure their success.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Board Agenda- Tues, Feb. 24

Go here for the complete agenda:

A few highlights:
- Recommendation to approve a (new) Waldorf alternative program
- A new type of certificate to show student success (portfolio)
- Complete Special Needs Satisfaction Survey results
- Motion to change the process for the public to speak at public board meetings
- Policy approvals

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blog on the Legislature

PSBAA (Public School Board Association of Alberta) has set up a new blog on the current session of the Legislature. It promises to be user-friendly information about what's going on in the Leg. Oral questions, bills, orders of the day, votes, excerpts from debates and press releases are all to appear at:

I haven't looked at it yet, but go ahead... take a peek. I heartily applaud the PSBAA for taking this initiative: anything that makes the work of politicians more accessible and readily understood to the public is, in my books, a good thing! An engaged public makes for a stronger democracy.

More details- phase 2, Special Needs Review


Dates/times/ locations for consultation sessions in Edmonton (there are other dates across the Province, if you are not in Edmonton):

Friday, March 20, 2009
10:00 - 3:00 pm
Delta Inn South
4404 Gateway Boulevard

Saturday, March 21, 2009
10:00 - 3:00 pm
Delta Inn South
4404 Gateway Boulevard

Purpose/ Focus for Phase 2 consultations:
“Phase 2 will provide Albertans with an opportunity to consider how we can better offer inclusive education in Alberta while supporting an increasingly diverse student population.” Dave Hancock, QC, Minister, Alberta Education

Questions to think about:
How would you define inclusive education? Does it mean inclusive in a regular classroom or inclusive in the system as a whole? What does the word mean to you?

For more information:
Go to the Alberta Education website where you can register for one of the consultation sessions.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Board outcomes- last meeting

Everything on the last agenda passed- all the recommendations were approved (policy changes, response to the petition, etc.)

I put forward the following request for information:

that information be provided from the schools that have
experienced repeated late buses in terms of an estimation of how many instructional
minutes have been lost since September and the plans from those principals on how
these lost minutes will be recouped before June. Also, advise of any costs schools
may incur to make up these mandated minutes.

I also put forward the following motion:

That the allotted time for speakers to address the Board be changed from 2 minutes to 3 minutes and the requirement to register ahead of time with the Board Secretary be removed and replaced with a sign-up sheet at every public board meeting.

The motion will be debated at the next board meeting and if you have something to add to the conversation, please feel free to contact Anne Sherwood ( and get on the speakers' list.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Setting the Direction- Phase 2

As you probably already know, the Province has been conducting a review of special needs education. There have been consultations all across Alberta, providing parents, community members and educators the chance to talk about what's working, what's not and what needs to change. Phase One is now complete and the committee is moving on to Phase 2.

Registrations for phase 2 consultations are now being taken through the web site: There are three options for participating in the consultation process in Phase 2 of Setting the Direction.

1---Participate in the online consultation (beginning on February 23, 2009).
Beginning February 23, 2009, download the discussion guide, print it, fill it in, and send it to: Setting the Direction for Special Education in Alberta
c/o Special Programs Branch, Alberta Education,
10044-108 Street,
Edmonton, AB, T5J 5E6
Fax: 780 422-2039

2---Organizations are encouraged to conduct their own consultation sessions and provide a collective, group response to the discussion guide questions. Download the Phase 2 Group Consultation Toolkit (beginning on February 23, 2009)

3---Register now to participate in one of the in-person consultations taking place in communities throughout Alberta. I believe the dates for Edmonton are March 20/21.

If you have an opinion about special needs education, now is your opportunity to help shape the future.

Please consider getting involved.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Giving EPSB feedback

I learned something new today--- we have a feedback page on the EPSB webpage. It's not all that easy to find (I couldn't spot the link immediately and instead did a search with the words: "Give us your feedback")

Here's the link:

You can click on "tell us what programs you'd like to see us offer". This may be of interest in particular if you live in an area where the new ASAP schools will be built, as we have to determine what programs to put in those schools. You should know that community demand has impacts where programs are placed, so let your voice be heard!

You can also click on feedback for other surveys, send Jane Farrell (head of Communications) an email and comment on the Quick Guide.

So-- start clicking and start sharing your wisdom.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Board agenda- Tues, Feb. 10

Tuesday, Feb. 10. Start time: 6 PM. McCauley Chambers, 2nd floor, Blue building, 1 Kingsway Ave. Free parking underground.

Looks like it will be a pretty light agenda, so it will probably finish around 9 pm.

Hope to see you there. I'll be the one with the puffy cheeks (I had my wisdom teeth out this week!)

Improving Student Achievement at S. Bruce Smith Junior High School

Response to Petition Regarding Provision of Education to Students with Special Education Needs


Responses to Trustee Requests for Information (geothermal info, math, wheelchair accessibility)


Report #7 of the Conference Committee (From the Meeting Held February 3, 2009)
topic: process for naming the 6 new ASAP schools

Board Policy Review - GBCD.BP Mandatory Records Checks for Employees
changes proposed re: Child Social Services check

Board Policy Review - GCA.BP Qualifications for Employment

Other Trustee Reports

Comments from the Public and Staff Group Representatives (**This is your opportunity to speak to the Board about any educational issue. 2 minutes max.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Public Engagement- ASBA- Survey


Edmonton Public Schools’ trustees know that public involvement is at the heart of excellent public education. By being involved and/or providing insights, people contribute to increasing student success and enhance the Board’s decision-making on behalf of the community. How do people want to be involved? What opportunities for input would they like? What barriers are there to their involvement?
Would you like to be more engaged in public education? How can we keep you better informed and more involved in our planning and decision-making? Please take a few minutes to tell us by completing an on-line survey before February 9, 2009. To access the survey, click here.
This research is part of our school board's and the Alberta School Boards Association’s efforts to put the public back into public education. For more information on this initiative, go to

This is posted on homepage. Please spread the word!!!

Policy Review- on line

Edmonton Public is continuously reviewing our policies. With everyone review, we provide an opportunity for public input through an on-line survey. I believe I have included a link to the right of my blog where you can check to see if any policies are currently under review.

The following 3 policy items have been posted on-line for review at the following link:

1. GFA.BP - Reduction of Staff
2. GGB.BP - Evaluation of Superintendent of Schools
3. GGC.BP - Staff Performance

Each of the policies is open for stakeholder input from February 4, 2009 to March 4, 2009

Once this process is complete, these policies will come to public board for three distinct readings. If you have any concerns or issues about these policies, you can feel free to contact me as well.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Photos from the Chinese New Year

Left to right: Chatting with Dr. Xinxin Fang from Hanban Province; North America's largest Chinese painting completed by Parkview students.
Below: With my daughter in front of the Lion

Meadowlark students

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese New Year

Yesterday, my daughter Hannah and I popped in on the Edmonton Chinese Bilingual Education Association's (ECBEA) Chinese New Year of the Ox Carnival at City Centre Mall. A number of schools in my ward offer Mandarin (Meadowlark, Dovercourt, Parkview and Ross Sheppard) and the ECBEA is a proud and active supporter of these programs. MLA Doug Elniski (Edmonton-Calder) was there as well with his wife, Barb. Children from Meadowlark performed a couple of dances and a violin solo, while Dovercourt's students sang a song about preparing for the Chinese New Year and performed the dragon dance. The costumes were beautiful and Doug, Barb, Hannah and I were in the front row, right beside the drums and cymbals... a chest-stirring experience!!

We couldn't stay all day, but in the afternoon students from Parkview were attempting a North American record to create the largest Chinese painting: 10 feet by 50 feet long.

If you would like more information about the ECBEA, please visit: