Superintendent Update November 2021
Welcome to the November 2021 Superintendent Update. We are happy that our students are back in our classrooms, engaged in learning, athletics and extracurricular activities this fall. This has not been the school year we expected, and the return of all of these school activities brings the school experience much closer to normal. We thank you for your ongoing support as we navigate these challenging times together. Here is the latest news and information from FSD.
The Foothills School Division is pleased to introduce the new Board of Trustees, and we look forward to working alongside them now and in the future. We would like to welcome back our returning Trustees, Theresa Letendre, Ward 3 - Jack Molyneux, Ward 1, Sharon Nichols, Ward 4. We also welcome our three new Trustees to the Board, John Evans, Ward 2 - Lisa Penzo, Ward 4 and Phil Irwin, Ward 5. Our Board Chair is Theresa Letendre and our Vice Chair is John Evans.
Work Life Excellence
With the amount of time we have collectively spent in virtual meeting and learning environments in the last few years, we have discovered firsthand how this technology can easily blur the lines between work and home. We also understand that it is important for students, parents, and educators to be able to take full advantage of their free time and weekends outside of school and working hours. FSD will soon be implementing school/home and home/school communication guidelines with the objective of safeguarding family time for all members of the FSD community. We will be introducing these new communication guidelines in the weeks to follow in order to support learner and community wellbeing.
Final Assessments and Diploma Exams
As we recently learned, Alberta Education has determined that Diploma Exams and PATs will take place this school year, with the overall weighting of the Diploma exam being set at 10% of the student’s final grade in that course. With this in mind, Foothills School Division is applying this same 10% weighting to the final assessments that will take place across the Division outside of Diploma exam courses.
As a result, teachers will continue to provide final assessments for core courses at the end of each term to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their overall learning throughout the course. The structure of these final assessments will be set by school teams and this information will be communicated to students and parents by the school. These final assessments may take the form of a project, performance task or exam. We have provided this flexibility in assessing student learning and their learning journey throughout the course to support student well-being and achievement, recognizing the disruptions in learning that have occurred due to COVID.
Teachers will design these final assessments, ensuring they are fair measurements of what was taught and considering the unique circumstances of this term. We want to make sure our students are successful and have the advantage in competing for scholarships and admission to programs at post-secondary institutions.
Assessments are appropriate and necessary components of understanding student achievement and identifying potential gaps in learning relative to curricular outcomes. It is essential that we maintain rigor in learning, student motivation, and engagement. We encourage students to actively prepare for these final assessments to deepen understanding of curriculum, be well prepared for next steps in learning, and positively impact grades and achievement.
- There will be a teacher designed final assessment
- Teachers have the flexibility to provide their professional judgement in determining a student’s final grade in a course as per FSD Administrative Procedure 360
- The teacher’s professional judgement will consider whether or not any individual assessment, including the final assessment, is consistent with student learning demonstrated throughout the course
- The final grade will reflect the student’s overall learning during the term
- The type of assessment is flexible (i.e. Exam, project, performance task, etc.)
- This assessment will be weighted at 10%
- We recognize that the circumstances of a pandemic continue to influence students in different ways. We also know and trust that the flexibility in type of assessment and the role of professional judgement in assessing students will ensure your child receives an assessment that is advantageous, fair, accurate, flexible and reflective of the student’s overall achievement during the term.
Learning Gap Funding Grade 2 and 3
The Foothills School Division will be receiving $373,000 as part of the Learning Gap Fund. This funding will provide literacy and numeracy interventions for students in Grades 2 & 3 who may have unfinished learning. We hope to announce additional funding for Grade 1 students in January, and we are thankful for this additional support from Alberta Education.
FSD Bussing is currently facing a funding shortfall of $300,000-$400,000 that may potentially affect bussing services and routes in the future, at a time when many are asking for additional opportunities for bussing. There are a number of options available to ease this concern, and we would like to engage with families regarding our school transportation over the course of the next several months. This follows up on the initial consultation that took place on this topic last spring.
The Foothills School Division would also like to address our current $4 million dollar operating deficit. We've been able to operate with a deficit budget for the last number of years due to the benefit of having operational surpluses. These surpluses have allowed us to maintain and sometimes add staff and services, helping us mitigate the Covid-19 constraints and enhance school support. The Province announced two years ago that we would need to reduce surpluses to no more than 3.1% of our budget. Following this school year, we will be below the GoA reserve level and will need to have balanced budgets moving forward - starting with the 2022-2023 school year. Again, there are options available to us, from reorganizing services to staff positions, and we would like to engage with our staff team, families and the public to decide on a course of action that will be best for our students and community.
These past two years have been a challenging time for students, parents, and educators alike, and we believe that doing what’s best for children is a goal we all share. To this end, the Foothills School Division is working to ensure our communications remain timely, consistent and transparent, and we are committed to maintaining this moving forward. Thank you to every member of our Foothills School Division Team and community. This work would not be possible without your ongoing support, and we know that by continuing to work together we will get through this together. All the best and thank you.