Big decisions in a tiny perfect school district

equality_house-Vivian-Mosierx400It is serendipity that the news about Equality House emerged yesterday, on the eve of Canadian Rockies Public Schools presenting ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE (AP)172 re: Sexual Minority/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity. The house is across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church – I won’t post a link to the website, it is that execrably hate-filled. Google it if you must. The story prompted me to post before our board meeting tonight, Canmore Collegiate High School. There is a LOT on the agenda, which you can see here.

I am proud that the AP will be brought forward tonight; it is the culmination of earlier work. From the minutes of November  29, 2011:

Trustee Comfort initiated a discussion on the matter of ensuring that schools provide a safe and welcoming environment free of harassment and discrimination against sexual minorities. Edmonton Public Schools and other Boards in Canada have developed policy to ensure the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and staff in schools.  Motion: E. Comfort:
That Administration be directed to review the work of Edmonton Public Schools in the development of their policy on sexual orientation and gender identity, and bring forward a recommended Administrative Procedure to support and protect sexual minorities in Canadian Rockies Public Schools.  Carried. And it was unanimous.

I know the pain and bullying some of our students undergo. These policies and procedures will not stop all of that treatment but here we reaffirm who we are and what we expect from each other. And that builds a culture. Thanks to Kate Belford for her hard work in the research and recommendations, as this was crafted.

Brain made of handsTonight also will be third (and final) reading of the by-law to reduce the Trustees from seven to five. We have had some feedback, but no great hue-and-cry…we will see how the discussion goes this evening.  What do YOU think? Let us know. Many hands make light work but the savings are in the region of $20,000/year – every year… the loss is the diversity of experience, intelligence and opinion that more brains at the table bring. Here is a thoughtful piece from Chair Kim Bater on the topic.

Elizabeth Rummel Elementary School could be housing kindergarten to Grade 3 students only as soon at the fall of 2013.Justin Parsons/ Canmore Leader/ QMI Agency

Canmore Leader Photo

Also on the table is the closing of portables at ERS and the Grade Reconfiguration around that. It will change the character of two Canmore primary schools and eventually the high school as well. This has been discussed with school councils and the Community Education Network to the point we are ready to move ahead with a decision.

There’ll be lots of talk about money too, since the provincial budget is now in force. I’d like to see something on the CRPS website that shows in a simple way, the full effects of this budget. Parkland School Division has done a good job. Our superintendent, Chris MacPhee also has a message about the budget to CRPS staff , as well as board chair, Kim Bater, to school councils. skinny-piggy-bankThe budget is still being formulated; once it is complete, the chair and superintendent will visit each school to speak about the challenges in 2013 – 2014.

Those challenges have prompted the board to seriously consider conducting a Special School Tax Levy Plebiscite of 3% in this fall’s municipal and school board elections. It may not fly, but there are not many options open to the board to garner revenue.  We feel we must examine every possibility – however remote or improbable. We met with both Town of Banff and Town of Canmore Councils recently. Suffice it to say, neither group was enthusiastic about the idea. They did understand the need to explore it. This too is up for debate tonight.

We will go in camera to look at the agreement reached just last Friday by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers Association, to decide what the response of CRPS board to the Alberta School Boards’ Association will be.  You can see highlights of the agreement here.

Meanwhile the good work of teachers, students and administrators continues: Mr. Bittner is presenting tonight on a school garden/Urban agriculture proposal; The Science Fair was yesterday – 154 participants in the BCHS gym. THANK YOU Rotary for your support and Ms. Worobey for your hard work; We are still talking to Alpenglow Community School to see if we can bring them “into our tent”, as the saying goes; our partners at Parent Link have launched the “Gearing Up for Kindergarten”.

Not only are we the tiny perfect School District, we are the little engine that could, and can try to make the gears mesh and do right by our students.

See you tonight, I hope!




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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2 Responses to Big decisions in a tiny perfect school district

  1. shirley kine says:

    Good work on the anti-bullying initiative. It’s a start point and may the school be bully free eventually.

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