The new school year is exciting for educators, administrative staff and elected board members.
Living Sky School Division Director of Education Brenda Vickers and Board Chair Ronna Pethick spoke with local media before a school division meeting Wednesday about a variety of topics relevant to the school division.
At the time of interviewing, enrolment numbers for the current school year weren’t finalized, and specific numbers will be compiled at the end of September.
Some student populations, especially in rural schools, are affected by the oil and gas industry, as well as people having fewer children than did previous generations.
Families also move from rural areas, Pethick said.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to lose families but [parents] have to put food on the table,” Pethick said.
A goal of the division this year is to have every student attend, and eventually graduate from, school.
“When I see graduates at the end of June standing on that stage and some of them overcoming immense obstacles in their lives … it just fills me with a sense of pride as it would all our staff,” Pethick said.
Graduating more Indigenous students has been a division goal over the years, particularly as the Ministry of Education set a provincial goal that by 2020, 65 per cent of Indigenous students would graduate within three years.
Vickers said it’s unlikely Living Sky will meet the provincial goal, but many Indigenous students nonetheless graduate in five years. Vickers said meeting the Ministry’s three-year goal could take place next year or in 2022.
Education funding, according to Vickers, remains a worthwhile expense to taxpayers.
Regarding education funding, Vickers said, “I think people in general have an interest in having a great education system. It’s something that everybody benefits from when it’s working well.”
Vickers commended efforts by Minister of Education Gord Wyant, but said, “I think that there’s an acknowledgement that there does need to be more funding in education from lot of different angles.”
Pethick and Vickers also said the division has planned mental heath initiatives for staff, including guest speakers.