With several changes taking place, trustees at Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) weren’t interested in looking at anymore major moves right now.
That included considering another request from Rimbey Christian School to take on their school as an alternative educational program that was presented to trustees at their regular meeting Sept. 15
WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell explained the board reaffirmed they wished to remain with the status quo in the division following some significant changes already being worked through this school year, which included Lovell being promoted from within along with wanting to focus on a new direction. Earlier this year, a similar request from Rimbey was turned down following a full review of their programming and facilities, with trustees not wishing to take on such a task with the financial uncertainty they faced at the time.
“Trustees felt that our plates were full enough and wanted to stay the course with all of the recent changes,” Lovell said.
“There was early discussions held and we were committed to seeing what the new school year brought in way of opportunities. We revisited the issue to find out the interest level and trustees had a thorough conversation, but wished to remain with the direction we are heading.”
Trustees decided to move forward on a new way to try and gauge what the public, parents, students and staff think about the what’s happening in WCPS.
Following an update from Lovell on just what they would be allowed to do and whether they could afford the contract, trustees approved the $54,000 expenditure for the three-year deal with Thought Exchange, a B.C.-based enterprise that conducts and co-ordinates engagement communications and research studies for several school divisions in Canada and the U.S.
“Trustees were reassured that the information collected in the large division-wide engagement process would roll over and be usable in subsequent years, while also being able to conduct smaller scale engagement processes on an unlimited basis with lots of flexibility through use of the training that five division staff will be taking through the company,” Lovell stated.
He added the first big engagement process that is planned will be surrounding the formation of WCPS’s three-year plan, scheduled for sometime this school year.
Trustees were excited at the prospect of having a better engagement with their stakeholders and reaching those through the new online process that they normally wouldn’t be able to.
A pilot project featuring a new model of course instruction at the Bentley and Alix high schools has so far been well received, according to Lovell, who presented trustees with an update on the enhanced learning model that has students working online in several core subject areas.
Lovell stated the initial feedback from staff, parents and students at the two small rural schools has been very positive and they really like the flexibility it allows for students to accomplish their learning goals anywhere and anytime they want.
“The 10 teachers that spent the summer did a lot of preparation for this and have also provided a lot of support to the schools during the initial start up. There is also the opportunity now for those teachers to physically visit the students at those schools,” he said.
He added, as a pilot, the division is closely monitoring the project and should it prove successful, there is a chance it could expand its course offerings plus move to other schools in the division.
Talks are being undertaken within WCPS to figure out how best to move ahead on the processes to replace a pair of long-term, high-ranking members of administration.
It was announced at the meeting that WCPS will be losing secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson and facilities manager Brad Buss to retirement in the near future and trustees are looking into whether the hunt for replacements should be done internally or through the hiring of an external consultant to assist them.
Lovell added there is an additional question of what to do with Buss’ position, as there will be a void when he leaves.
“Brad has been in this post for a very long time and has done things in such a way, with such a strength and skill level, that we don’t think we could replace that,” he said.
“So, trustees understanding the current situation, are looking at a possible review of the department as a whole in order to best come up with a new job description and look at whether the present model or a new structure might be the best way to manage our facilities.”