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Caution urged on possibility of expanding WCPS board

Trustees interested in looking at the possibility of adding another trustee to the mix were recommended to look at the matter with caution.

Trustees interested in looking at the possibility of adding another trustee to the mix in Wolf Creek were recommended by administration to look at the matter with a lot of caution.

A suggestion was made last month for administration to look into what would be involved in restructuring the boundaries of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) to add a seventh trustee, considering the increase in population that is now represented in the Blackfalds area.

However, the presentation by WCPS secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson at the board’s meeting on March 3 showed trustees that it isn’t going to be a simple process and may also prove fruitless in the end depending upon the wishes of the provincial government.

Henderson explained that staff looked at the current trustee ward boundaries along with population figures and stated that usually it would take an increase of about 25 percent to warrant adding a trustee. However, since the division is left with the 2011 census as its only reliable source of data - the next federal census is this year though data won’t be available until at least sometime late this year - this makes it difficult to get a good measurement and approve a bylaw prior to the deadline of the end of March 2017 to make changes to the ward structure in time for the fall 2017 election.

“I’m also not sure the provincial government has the appetite to be adding trustees,” Henderson added.

“There also remain other choices to make. We would have to reconfigure the boundaries and I want to caution the trustees about possibly splitting municipal electoral districts as it may give municipalities - who run our school board elections currently - some unwillingness to help. As it is, we never have accurate splits of population.”

Trustees still wanted some work done going forward with a sense that the idea may have to wait until after the next election.

Communication plan

The board has directed administration to follow up on the idea of WCPS formally having a overall communications plan.

Acting superintendent Jayson Lovell presented the notion to trustees at the meeting held March 17 with the board overwhelmingly welcoming the suggestion.

It’s anticipated administration will draft a concept plan for trustees to review and refine within the next couple of months.

Construction ideas

Five priorities were approved by the board at its March 17 meeting as part of its three year (2017-19) capital plan.

The top priority for Wolf Creek is to modernize Rimbey Junior/Senior High School’s career and technology studies area as well as the portion of the school built back in 1961, followed by a complete modernization of Blackfalds Iron Ridge Elementary in addition to replacing the section built in 1949.

A new 700 core capacity high school for Blackfalds falls third on the list, which also includes more modular classrooms to be added next year, with similar additions to a pair of schools in Lacombe in 2018.

Work moving “a-head”

Administration provided an update to the board on its continuing investigation into concussion protocols in high school athletics throughout the division and province wide.

Lovell explained there are guidelines that schools, especially for coaches involved with teams competing at the senior high level. Those coaches must take concussion recognition training in order to coach in sport governed by the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA).

However, that training is not required at the junior high level and Lovell suggested it would be a good idea for that training to be given to Wolf Creek coaches at that level, which could be provided by a person currently working for the division.

Trustees, though, were also cautioned about putting coaches in the line of fire legally concerning making medical decision, rather than letting the parents of the athlete decide.

In the end, trustees moved that they want to push the idea through the Alberta School Boards Association as a way to get some sort of regulation or establish protocol, which may also push the ASAA to enact something more concrete.