Recent data indicates student achievement in both literacy and math has been improving over the last five years. Dwayne Reeve, GSSD director of education reported to the school board that roughly 75 per cent of students in Grades 3 and 5 are now meeting or exceeding reading level expectations compared to approximately 50 per cent five years ago. The math results are similar. In his accountability report, Reeve attributed the success to the use of instructional coaches, but warned the division is not done yet. "Continued work will need to be done if we are to meet the established targets," he said.
Raise the roofs
Good Spirit School Division will not have to dip into reserves to fix the roofs on three of its schools. Originally, the board of trustees approved using accumulated surplus for the division's $193,000 share of replacing the roof at Esterhazy High School. But discussions between the ministry and GSSD facilities manager revealed the project was eligible under a new policy that allows school divisions to borrow funds for their share of block projects. At its meeting October 3, the board approved a motion to borrow the money for Esterhazy and two other roof projects completed in 2013 at Preeceville and Grayson Schools for a total of $344,000.
The lease on the bus
The public school board approved the leasing of 10 new buses at its October meeting at a total cost of $817,000 over four years. Sherry Todosichuk, superintendant of business administration, recommended the trustees approve the bid by RBC Royal Bank for a 48-month lease agreement but said she was disappointed the division only received two tenders. She said changes in financial institution policies on leasing may have been responsible for the poor response and suggested the board may want to consider going back to purchasing buses in the future.
Rapidly increasing enrolment is a problem school divisions like to have. At the October GSSD board meeting, Dwayne Reeve, director of education, reported enrolment is up by more than 100 students over last year. "It's different than what we used to see and we're pleased to see it," he said. Current enrolment stands at 6,063 not including pre-Kindergarten, which represents another 144 kids at seven of the division's 28 schools. Still, more bodies does present challenges, but Reeve told the board the increase may just put Good Spirit above the threshold for a mid-year funding adjustment. "We're very hopeful we will be in line for enrolment increase dollars," he said. Last year the division barely missed out on that ministry program.
Additional K teacher
The public school board approved a budget exception October 3 to hire a new Kindergarten teacher for Dr. Brass School. The unexpected requirement was the result of a major increase in Kindergarten enrolment to 31 students, which required the class to be split into two half-time classes from the single 80 per cent-time class. Reeve presented data that showed since Dr. Brass implemented 80 per cent Kindergarten, Grade 1 reading levels of have reversed. In May 2010, with a cohort of children who had only half-time Kindergarten, 14 did not meet the required level and only one met or exceeded. In May 2013, on the other hand, with a cohort who received 80 per cent-time Kindergarten, only five didn't meet while 15 were at or above grade level. "It's a pleasant surprise, but one that comes with a need to provide resources," Reeve said.