An ambitious three-year plan to provide increased accountability and overall improvements to the public education system in southeast Saskatchewan was presented by the board of trustees of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division last Thursday afternoon during their annual meeting of electors.
Chairwoman Carol Flynn welcomed the annual financial report and public accounts statement provided by Shelley Toth, financial vice-president for the division.
The three-year report contained additional information regarding school demographics and enrolments, literacy achievements, equitable opportunities and transition plans.
Marc Casavant, director or education for Cornerstone, noted that total enrolment was up by 30 to 35 students compared with last year, settling in at 8,155 in the 38 facilities embraced by the division. The 166 students who are home-schooled within the parameters of the division are included.
The enrolment numbers were also broken up into grades as well as community facilities to give the electorate a good look at where the students are receiving their education and how many there are in each grade and each facility.
Superintendent Lynn Little noted how Data Day, the collection of details from each sector, has aided the planning process since it has allowed the division to identify the priorities in each school, beginning with pre-kindergarten programs. She also noted that the new grading and report card system has undergone improvements and more acceptance among staff, students and parents.
Casavant said that two more pre-kindergarten programs had been added in the past year in Arcola and Oxbow giving the division a total of eight.
The Early Childhood Intervention program, the only one of its kind in the province, is reaping benefits, Casavant and Little said, adding that learning opportunities for the families involved are made available earlier than ever and that means an easier transition for the child once they enter mainstream programming. By going into the home and working with parents and kids, the whole process of educating later on becomes much easier, Little explained. The early education project participants are identified through referral and normal intake processes and assessments, she added.
Casavant provided information regarding how the division reports regularly to the Ministry of Education and how they are given opportunities to exchange thoughts with them while Flynn noted that the board also made a presentation regarding their practices.
When it came down to the financial details, Toth said the division was showing a relatively healthy surplus but that could be misleading since the $7.7 surplus this year and over $105 million in total is going to be chewed up in the ensuing years as major capital projects such as payments on the newly built Prairie Horizons School in Oxbow and the major renovation and addition to the Weyburn Comprehensive School roll out.
The division works within a budget of just over $96 million.
A more complete look at the Cornerstone financial situation can also be found in this week's edition.