Qualicum School District mulls growth

The board of School District 69 (Qualicum) has a better idea of what is happening at all of the schools, after school growth plans were presented to the trustees June 12.

Superintendent Jim Ansell told trustees that despite job action by teachers, which resulted in very few staff meetings with school administrators, the planning process was vibrant and resulted in significant conversations.

Assistant superintendent Rollie Koop agreed and said you never know what you can anticipate when you go to the schools when there is job action but despite it, there was some lively discussions. Although most schools had many accomplishments to report, the concern over not enough school councilors was cited at more than one school.

At Bowser Elementary School concern was expressed about the counseling case load and how they could possibly meet the needs of their students next year based on the challenges they currently face.

Board chair Lynette Kershaw pointed out that she too is concerned that kids don’t have enough time with counsellors and there are too many kids on waiting lists for assessment.

“It is loud and clear for me that the counseling and child and youth care worker situation has been brought to the forefront and it will have to be addressed to see where we can make improvements.”

She added, “I am concerned kids don’t have enough time with counsellors and there are kids on a waiting list for assessments at Bowser.

“We have to look at student population and needs.  Some areas have higher needs because of socio economic conditions and we have to look at how to allocate resources,” stated Kershaw.

The report from Errington Elementary School indicated it has the highest transient student population in the district and that can be challenging.  This year there were more than 70 transitioning students in and out of the school and that has created pressure on the support services.

Director of Instruction Gillian Wilson told the board that they are aware they need more counseling support but some of that support must come from other ministries particularly Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy which fall under the Ministry of Children and Family Development which has its own funding.

“We know we need more counseling support.  Our counsellors some times work with teachers to give them strategies to help their kids function successfully in the class,” stated Wilson.

Ansell said he has met with principals and they expressed a need for counseling. He stated that the learning improvement fund may be one way to address the counseling issue.

A grant of $511,000 from the learning improvement fund was put into education funding by the government through the enactment of Bill 22.

Ansell said it is built into the overall budget but is to be used to add support where there is a significant gap of meeting the needs of students.

The funding will be allocated once it is determined where the money can best be used as a benefit to classes.

“It is additional support to ensure that the best possible learning environment exists in classrooms,” Ansell stated.

Each schools growth plan has been posted on the School District’s website and Kershaw said the reports highlight many innovative things that are being done at schools throughout the district.

She said next year she would like trustees to be more involved in the process, and she hopes they can engage in conversation at the school level.

“The sharing of information and collaboration is huge to me.  We have to keep on sharing successes.  We need to toot our own horn and get this information out,” Kershaw emphasized.

Some of the success stories trustees are particularly proud of are outlined in the 2012-2013 goals for PASS/Woodwinds Alternate School and Continuing Education Center.

Ansell said personalized learning has been occurring at that campus for 50 years now and many of the students in the program wouldn’t even be in school without the program.

“It is in inspirational program.  Staff get to know their students at a very deep level.  It’s a place about students and stories and they are all success stories,” Ansell observed.


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