Black Gold School Division


  • Fall 2023 Trustee Newsletter

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    Welcome to our new e-newsletter format, for easier viewing on smartphones and other mobile devices. Through their Inspiring Success! newsletter, the Board of Trustees seeks to inform Black Gold families about the various activities carried out by their elected officials to promote and advocate for quality public K-12 education.t

    Board Chair’s Message

    Welcome everyone to a new school year! Summer break was a great chance to rest, refuel and to prepare for the year ahead. As your Board of Trustees, each of us is ready to bring fresh energy and a renewed commitment to the task of leading Black Gold in this school year. The Black Gold family is ready to work together to inspire success and help our students and our staff become the best they can be.

    September is an exciting time for teachers, staff and students. The year ahead is filled with opportunities for growth, achievement, learning and unforgettable moments. Whether you are new to Black Gold or returning, we wish you, our students, staff and families a wonderful year.

    On September 15, the Board hosted all staff at our annual Welcome Back event. After a few years of virtual events this was the first time – post Covid – where we were all able to gather in person.

    It was a big Black Gold family reunion, with aound 1,000 attendees, breakfast, new staff introductions, special presentations, and recognition of our longest serving and retiring employees. We were thrilled to have the entertainment provided by Black Gold’s famous Melisizwe Brothers.

    Your locally-elected Board of Trustees is looking forward to connecting with you during the school year as we attend school events and school council meetings. We also invite you to join your school councils as a way to be actively involved in your child’s education. Most councils meet monthly, and some even every other month.

    Near the end of October, the Division will host an evening event to provide support and information for school councils at the Maclab Theatre in Leduc. A few times a year, school council members from across the division meet either in-person or virtually with trustees to share ideas, brainstorm, and meet other members. In February or March, our Annual Community Engagement (ACE) event is held to offer both the school and broader community input into plans, programs or ideas the Division is looking for direction on.

    These are just some of the opportunities available to connect with your trustees. You are always welcome to send any of us an email with your questions, concerns or kudos.

    Once again, welcome back!

    Esther Eckert, Board Chair

    Click the image to view the Board Meeting Highlights. The highlights are a summary of the Board of Trustees Regular, Organizational, and Special Meetings.

    Members of the public can continue to participate in public meetings by watching the live-stream on our YouTube channel.

    Follow the links to find out about specific meeting dates and times and meeting agendas.

    WATCH: 2023 Student Art Show in Leduc

    In early June, the Division was proud to partner with the Leduc Art Club for the 2023 Aspiring Young Artists’ Competition and Showcase. There were 120 pieces of art created by talented grade 9 – 12 students from across Black Gold schools.

    The Board of Trustees joined parents, students, community members and elected officials to see the artworks up close. From the 120 pieces of student art on display, the trustees picked four to be purchased and added to the Division’s permanent student art collection. All of the chosen pieces were created by students from Leduc Composite High School.

    Your Trustees at Work

    (L-R) Supt. Romanchuk, Trustee Hansen, Trustee Klaassen, Board Chair Eckert, Minister Wilson, Trustee Martinson, MLA Boitchenko, MLA Lunty, Trustee Martin, Vice Chair Charpentier, and Assoc. Supt. Dargis.

    Every year, the Board of Trustees meets with elected officials in communities within Black Gold to share information and advocate for a strong public education system. On September 20, the Board of Trustees met with Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, MLA Brandon Lunty (Leduc-Beaumont), and MLA Andrew Boitchenko (Drayton Valley-Devon).

    “One of our core values is relationships,” said Board Chair Esther Eckert. “The evening was a successful relationship building opportunity with our three MLAs. We appreciate their genuine interest in working with us and willingness to advocate for Black Gold.”

    “This meeting was timely, as MLAs Lunty and Boitchenko are new and learning about their roles, so they had many questions about public education,” said Trustee Gary Hansen. “There was a noticeable sense of interest and commitment by all to work together on the issues challenging our school division.”

    “We had a wonderful time learning about one another and finding common ground,” said Trustee Devonna Klaassen. “It was encouraging to hear their genuine interest in learning about all things Black Gold, their willingness to understand the education sector, and to explore opportunities to work together for the wellbeing and success of all our students.”

    The wide-ranging discussions included the opening of the new Ohpaho Secondary School in Leduc; progress on the Calmar Collegiate School; the time-line and funding for the new high school in Beaumont; renovations to École Corinthia Park; Thorsby traffic lights; cross-ministerial support for vulnerable students; Educational Assistant credentialing; and restoration of support for Alberta School Councils Association.

    Trustee Michelle Martin was struck by the MLA’s sense of compassion and caring for the community. “It was evident that they all care about Black Gold and pursuing mutual interests,” she said. “We look forward to working with them over the next few years to continue inspiring success for our students.”

    “The MLAs were very attentive to our concerns, and we’re confident that they will take our issues to the Education and Infrastructure ministries,” said Trustee Martinson.

    Vice Chair Angie Charpentier stated that the best way to advocate is to build strong relationships. “As trustees, we felt heard and understood, and I believe our messages were received and we will work together to make a difference,” she said.

    2023 Staff Awards

    2023 Inspiring Success Award winner Bobbi Hjertaas (centre) with the Board of Trustees.

    During the staff Welcome Back event on September 15, 2023, the Board of Trustees presented the annual Inspiring Success Award of Distinction to Bobbi Hjertaas, the Second Languages Department Head at Leduc Composite High School (LCHS).

    “Bobbi is extremely passionate about French Language education, and has been an integral part in promoting and growing the French Immersion Program in the Division, particularly in Leduc,” said LCHS principal Brad Clarke. “Another passion of her’s is coaching and working with our young athletes. She continues to give up multiple evenings and weekends to help student-athletes excel by being a part of volleyball tournaments around the province, as well as running school tournaments and camps for younger athletes in the spring and summer.”

    The award honours employees who have made a notable, significant and positive contribution to the Division, demonstrated leadership and made a significant difference to public education in the Black Gold community.

    2023 Superintendent’s Award winner Kirsten Chiesa with Supt. of Schools Bill Romanchuk.

    Superintendent of Schools/CEO Romanchuk also presented the annual Superintendent’s Service Award of Excellence to École Bellevue School (EBS) Early Child Services Teacher, Kirsten Chiesa.

    “Kirsten is one of the hardest workers I know and somehow balances her busy school and home life with grace,” said Christina Flanagan, one of her nominators. “She is a mother, a wife, a friend, a ball player, and an active doggie mama. She is adventurous and loves all of her roles. She is genuinely a remarkable human!”

    The Superintendent’s Award is presented to an individual or group that demonstrates outstanding spirit and excellence and inspires others to perform their best in the Division

    New Accessible Playground at CES

    Calmar Elementary School students rush to check out their new accessible playground.

    On September 13, the Board of Trustees joined Calmar Elementary School (CES) principal Bernadette Hawkings, and members of their Parent Teacher Association for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new accessible playground at the school.

    The Parent Teacher Association partnered with businesses and families in and around Calmar to fundraise for the new playground.

    “We are very excited to have a play structure that includes a variety of fun pieces and games for kids of all age levels,” said Principal Hawkins. “This new playground will increase physical and mental wellness in our children through play, and is inclusive to all, regardless of physical or mental abilities,

    Trustee Klaassen (left) with members of the CES Parent Teacher Association and Principal Hawkins (right).

    Advocating for Sustainable Funding for Dual Credit & Off Campus programs

    Alberta is facing a shortage of skilled trades people. In response, the Alberta Government has an increased focus on connecting K-12 education with post-secondary opportunities in support of career pathways to be more responsive to the needs of our current and future workforce.

    The Black Gold School Divisions’ Dual Credit program – in partnership with Lakeland College, Olds College, Portage College, Northern Lakes College, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Alberta Education – allows our students to earn college/university credits from a post-secondary institution and high school credits from their school by completing college-level coursework. The program offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, career exploration, and the development of new skills.

    Off-Campus Education courses offered at the Black Gold Outreach School include Agriculture and Workplace Safety, Work Experience, the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), the Green Certificate Program, and their prerequisites.

    The Division has also received funding approval from Alberta Education for an addition to Calmar Secondary School that will house the Calmar Secondary Collegiate School, to provide students with opportunities to complete their first period apprenticeship training and related work/registered apprenticeship program placements as part of their high school graduation. Construction on the collegiate school is expected to begin in Spring 2024.

    Post-secondary tuition costs are increasing each year, and as school jurisdictions are required to pay tuition for dual credit courses, the result is that the costs of many dual credit programs, including some first period apprenticeship training for trades, exceeds the per-pupil funding received for individual students.

    “Dual Credit courses often require lower pupil-to-teacher ratios in order to provide supervision and student support,” said Superintendent of Schools Bill Romanchuk. “In order to achieve this, school divisions are required to be more economically stringent in other areas and increase pupil-to-teacher ratios in other classes to balance the books.”

    After 15 years of dual credit implementation with ample evidence of benefits, and a full two years after the Alberta Education Dual Credit Framework commitment, school divisions have yet to see a sustainable funding structure. “We continue to deal with unpredictable “start up” or “pilot” funding,” said Romanchuk.

    “We have joined other school boards across the province in advocating to the Province to address the issue of sufficient and sustainable funding for dual credit and career education, as well as too much red tape to access programming, credit and transferability issues, and a lack of information and awareness about program opportunities,” said Board Chair Esther Eckert.

    “We recently requested MLA assistance in advocating for sufficient, sustainable and equitable funding structure for dual credit programming, in order to support the proven success in pathways to post-secondary education and workplace training,” she added.

    The Board also believes that dual credit opportunities need to align with the high school calendar, as they currently present scheduling issues and high workloads for some students in the programs.

    Ohpaho Secondary School: Construction Update

    Construction on Leduc’s new secondary school is progressing well. Over the past few weeks, workers have been working on a number of fronts; building the interior walls, drywalling, taping and painting, and installing ceilings and light fixtures.

    Crews have also been installing cladding and insulation on the upper floors, pouring the concrete floor in the change room area, and working on the construction of the building elevator. They are also installing light poles and car plug-ins in the staff parking area.

    Workers will next start installing the building overhead doors and radiant panels, and begin work on sidewalk and parking lot construction.

    We’re hiring! From teachers to education assistants, secretaries to custodians, and everything in between!

    We have multiple postings open! To find out more, or to appy, go to our Careers page!

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