Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Parent Meeting Re: Grade 8 New Homeroom distribution

Below is some information about the new funding that MidSun School will be given shortly.  This is an exciting opportunity for us to reduce class size. The priority for MidSun will be to reduce class sizes in our grade 8 population from 35 students to 30 or 31 students.  We will be holding a meeting on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 1 PM in our library to discuss the process we will follow to redistribute the students in our grade 8 homerooms.  All parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Extra funding directed to schools from province

Principals are deciding how additional funding from the provincial government will benefit their schools.

During her campaign for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party, Alison Redford promised to put $107 million back into education in Alberta. Within two weeks of winning the leadership, Premier Redford and new Minister of Education, Thomas Lukaszuk, announced that the money was secured.

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) portion of the additional funding is $19.2 million.
During a public meeting on Oct. 18, the CBE’s Board of Trustees directed the one-time funding to schools so principals, who know their school communities better than anyone, can decide how to spend the money.

The CBE money comes from Alberta Education in two buckets. Part of the money is earmarked for Alberta Initiative for School Improvement or “AISI” projects. These projects are designed to improve our teaching across the system. The additional $4.2 million of AISI funding equals $43.50 per student. This money will be directed to schools for their personalized learning initiatives.

The rest of the additional funding for the CBE totals $15 million or $155.30 per student. Principals can use this money to make a difference in classrooms.

In general, Alberta Education has clear expectations for how the money is used. Minister Lukaszak has stated that the additional funding be “felt by” students and teachers. In other words, the funding is to be spent on people. This expectation is consistent with the feedback the CBE received to an online survey.

The CBE asked people to rate priorities for additional funding. Between Oct. 4 and 11, more than 6,100 responded to the survey. Teachers and support for teachers topped the list.

School principals have been asked to submit their spending plans for the additional funding by Nov. 1. The short deadline means the one-time money will get to students and classrooms quickly.

Principals will connect with their school council chairs to explain the exact funding for their schools and the spending plans. Given the quick turnaround, it is hard for principals to consult with the community again. That is part of the reason why the decision-making was delegated to principals. They know their schools. The spending plans will be a response to ongoing conversations about what is important in each school.

Sidebar: More than 6,100 people help set priorities

More than 6,100 completed an online survey to rank CBE priorities for additional funding from the provincial government. Here are the results in order of importance.

1 |    Teachers in schools
2 |    Support for teachers 
3 |    Support for students with special needs
4 |    School maintenance and repair
5 |    Technology for students
6 |    Support for English-language learners
7 |    Professional development for teachers
8 |    Reducing student fees  
9 |    Replenish CBE reserves
10 |  New schools
In addition to these choices, people could write in a response they thought was missing. Many of the 900 written responses emphasized the choices above. The most common write-in response was smaller class sizes, with 138 mentions.
Almost half of the people who answered the survey described themselves as parents with school-age children. About 40 per cent described themselves as CBE employees. For the most part, parents and CBE employees agreed on the priorities.

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