Retreat & beyond

Photo from http://www.canadianmountainholidays.com/ Thank you, Canadian Mountain Holidays

This is a big-time catch up post – my first one since March 23rd! I did start a couple in April, but could not trust myself to steer clear of political commentary, so I remained in the confines of Twitter and Facebook. Now things have calmed down somewhat, I’ll fill in some of those blanks.

The board of Canadian Rockies Public Schools  District sequestered ourselves for our annual retreat, April 21 and 22 in the Banff School Board office boardroom. This time is our chance to focus on what’s going well and how to sustain and support those things, as well as to carefully examine our challenges.  The picture above seems a metaphor for me of our Board work. Each person finds their place and role on the Via Ferrata of Canadian Rockies Public Schools, but wherever we are on the hierarchy, on the journey, we are all linked by a common purpose, as these adventurers are by their climbing rope.

The seven trustees, Secretary-Treasurer Dave MacKenzie, Superintendent Callaghan and his “heir apparent”, Chris MacPhee, as well as Kate Belford, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services,  and Darren Dick, Coordinator of Instructional Technology met and tackled an ambitious agenda. The board had met with the Principals prior to retreat for, as the cliché goes, “a full and frank discussion”. I am glad that this group feels they can express themselves honestly and openly. They are consummate professionals who are passionate about their schools and students; the district is lucky to have them.

So those of us at retreat sought to define and then emphasize what the fundamental goals of teaching and learning are; this will then shape our decisions around budget.  Inspiring Hearts & Minds core principles were reaffirmed; that process, those definitions and aspirations are the screen through which our decisions will pass.

Yes, I know, easy for us to say.  Recently someone tweeted the link to a post from my blog from a year ago…it is a case of déja vu all over again. I asked the Alberta Government to supply predictable sufficient funding to Public Education; we also asked our stakeholders to let the government know what is needed. Many letters and emails were sent to Edmonton.

The government got the predictable part right, but it is predictably insufficient: the three-year allocation of 1%, 2%, 2% will be outstripped by inflation and the increase in staff wages and salaries…and CRPS still has a deficit to repay.  Our funds have shrunk so much that even our piggy-bank looks unhealthy!

I am also waiting with bated breath: who will be in Cabinet? Will tripartite talks (Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards Association, Government of Alberta) resume? Will @LukaszukMLA be Education Minister again? What of The School Act?

Meanwhile, I choose to embrace hope and keep on working toward the best outcomes for our students.  So despite sometimes feeling as though we are marching endlessly in place, I will continue to work with government to see how inequity in funding might be addressed.  In that vein, I share these spring flowers that I gave to my best pal in the world on her birthday yesterday.  Onwards and upwards.

About Esmé Comfort

My husband Jim and I moved to the Bow Valley in 1980, settling in Canmore in 1983. Both my children were born in Canmore and attended K -12 in Canadian Rockies Public Schools District (CRPS), French Immersion. For the past six years I served as vice-chair of the board. Alberta Government support to the CRPS Inspiring Hearts & Minds initiative created opportunities for provincial, national and international outreach. In the past I held positions on the Canmore Daycare Board, the preschool board, and various school councils/PACs; I served as president of the local chapter of Canadian Parents for French for five years and sat on the provincial board for two. I currently sit on the board of the Canmore Folk Music Festival, work full time at an events management firm and edit, copy-edit and proofread on contract. My husband and I ran a small main street business for 18 years: supply and install floor wall and window coverings.
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One Response to Retreat & beyond

  1. Nancy DaDalt says:

    And so the dance continues. As parents and parent council members we are committed to working with our principals and our trustees to make our children’s education and Alberta’s future, the best it can be. I too have hope knowing we have all of you as leaders.

    With thanks,
    Nancy DaDalt

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