Good Spirit School Division students, particularly in the early years, will have a little less space this year.
As the first week of the 2013/2014 school year got under way last week, enrolment in Kindergarten to Grade 12 stood at 5,924 an increase of 88 students over last year at this time and Dwayne Reeve, GSSD director of education, expects it will be higher yet. Reeve attributes the increase to more jobs, immigration, more young families and a rising birth rate in the area.
Particularly dramatic is an increase at Dr. Brass School to nearly 200 students, an approximate increase of 25 per cent over traditional numbers.
In terms of academics, Reeve said the division will continue to focus this year on literacy extending reading intervention efforts from the early years into the middle years as part of its five-year strategic plan unveiled in September 2012.
“It’s been very well-received,” he said. “We don’t have data yet, but anecdotally people (teachers and parents) have talked about the gains we’ve made and even students themselves have talked about the benefit it has had for them in developing essential skills.”
Also part of the five-year plan is a well-being component. This year Melville Comprehensive School and Victoria School in Kamsack will pilot a new Comprehensive School Community Health program. Reeve said the program is a holistic health initiative that takes a broad view of overall well-being with physical and mental health components and a focus on nutrition an activity.
Student assessment and reporting, a major part of the Saskatchewan government’s Vision 2020 plan, will take its first steps forward as well. Reeve said it will be a year of planning and training to provide division staff with the supports and skills necessary to implement the new assessment guidelines.
The division has also added a full-time First Nations/Métis achievement coordinator who will be developing strategies to reduce the achievement gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students, another of the Province’s main 2020 goals.
Aside from perhaps a few growing pains, Reeve doesn’t see any major challenges in the year ahead, although he is taking a wait-and-see approach to restructuring at the Ministry of Education under new deputy minister Dan Florizone.
“We hope the [ministry] reorientation ties into GSSD’s strategic plan,” he said. “We’ll definitely have to look at that when it’s complete.”
GSSD’s big project, the building of a new school in Langenburg is also under way. Central office staff including superintendents and facilities people visited some recently built schools in Saskatoon over the summer and consulted with the architect, Aodbt Architecture + Interior Design, on broad strokes.
A “bubble drawing,” basically a rough outline of the major components of a new building, has been provided to Langenburg school administrators and school community council members to look over.
Reeve hopes the division will be able to roll out some general ideas to specific stakeholder groups within the next few weeks and open the discussion to the general public by early November.