By Anna Smith
Local Journalism Initiative
The November 23rd board meeting for Prairie Rose Public schools took a focus on the wellbeing of students in both access to services and the quality of education given, as well as the review of the finances needed to make this happen.
The division has increased the support for students’ mental health by about 20%, said Camille Quinton, Director of Inclusive Learning.
“You’ll see in there that there were some comments in regards to wanting more therapy services such as occupational therapy and things like that,” said Quinton. “So we were able this year as well to increase our occupational therapy by about a point two FTE. Now, because that is a contracted service, it’s a little bit hard to say exactly how much that is. But it’s an increase of about an additional 170 hours from what we had over last year. So that’s going to be a nice thing to add in a little bit more to help with our more disregulated students, and things like that.”
The Student Services Accountability Report also notes that the division has maintained the same high level of educational assistance available for various different support needs, as well as being able to benefit from the behavior consultant employed with them also being able to use service dogs in training as a part of their toolkit to assist students and staff in need of support.
With the transition from the accountability model to the assurance model by Alberta Education, the division has changed the way they approach education and report their success to government to five distinct domains.
“The domains are now student growth and achievement, teaching and leading learning supports gardens and local context. So those are the five. And at the beginning of the report, there’s just messages from us. There’s accountability statements, something that is required from the government and they essentially give that to us and just just fill in some details about that piece. And so just about the transparency that we need to show to our communities, and share with them how we’re doing,” said Superintendent Dr. Reagan Weeks.
Prairie Rose has seen strong results through their various supports and unique programs throughout the division, with a result of 92.5% as it pertains to education quality, said Weeks. The new report also goes beyond data to give a broader perspective of the division as a whole.
“The intent of the report is to show the local context and flavour. So part of it is using pictures to help tell our story, but also share what Prairie Rose is all about,” said Weeks. “So that was the goal. Previously, the reports had a lot of data and information. But now we’re trying to tell a story about who we are. So that’s why the shift has occurred.”
The audited budget of Prairie Rose Public schools was also discussed, with factors such as the decrease in travel expenses due to COVID-19, the decrease in enrollment, as well as a new funding model from a per student calculation to a Weighted Moving Average. The new partnership with Coulee Collegiate also played a factor.
“Some of our factors affecting this year’s operations, or enrollment decreased from both the preliminary budget and our prior year. This year, we had a new funding model, which moved to a weighted weighted moving average, we still had some effects of COVID-19 we received additional funding to help support kind of moving back into classrooms, as well as we still saw some decreases in expenses such as PD meetings and travel, just as we couldn’t do them with COVID restrictions,” said Candice Hintz, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer at Prairie Rose Public Schools.
Overall, the audit found the finances of the division to be presented fairly by independent audit.