REGINA – In a submission released today, Saskatchewan’s school boards are sharing that they consistently heard about the importance of Connections for education during local public engagements conducted earlier this year.
The report from boards to the Minister of Education highlights the need to enhance and expand Connections for education in three categories of main findings: Connections Among People and Relationships; Connections Between Systems and Structures; and, Connections to the Future and Navigating Technology.
“Taken together, our analysis of the themes can be summed up in one word: Connections,” said SSBA President Dr. Shawn Davidson. “This thread runs through the many ideas about the education system in the province that were identified and explored by thousands of people who engaged with this process. More specifically, all the themes identified from the engagements support the three categories of main findings.”
The findings resulted from more than 300 engagements school boards conducted across the province, involving more than 10,500 people. Many engagements took place in-person, while some divisions also used surveys and other tools to consult with students, families, communities and other stakeholders. In total, more than 36,500 comments were received.
“Our sincere thanks to all of the many diverse voices from across this province who engaged with this process and shared their views on the future of education,” said Davidson. “We are presenting this report to the Minister of Education as our submission as a partner involved in co-constructing a vision and a plan for education in the province beyond 2020, the last year covered by the current Education Sector Strategic Plan. This is our input into this process on behalf of the local voices we represent.”
In addition to the engagements, a review of documents related to education that have been produced in recent decades found there are ongoing similarities and consistency with the Connections findings.
“Seeing repetition of themes over some time presents both challenge and opportunity,” Davidson said. “The challenge is to identify the barriers that impede the sector from successfully attending to these themes. The opportunity is to learn from previous attempts and develop and adapt strategies that will focus Saskatchewan’s education sector in ways to successfully address the necessary Connections.”
In their report, school boards also present recommendations (see attached Backgrounder) aligned with the Connections findings, for the education sector to consider in moving forward toward co-construction of a new vision and plan.
“School boards are committed to continuing to improve education in the interests of all students,” Davidson said. “We want to ensure we are creating an environment for success and working together. We value and respect the role of all education and community partners and strongly believe that the path forward is about listening to what we have heard and working together to adapt and change for the benefit of all students.”
Backgrounder: Connections Recommendations
REGINA – The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) is encouraging residents of the province to participate in “Orange Shirt Day” by wearing orange and reflecting on residential schools.
“This annually proclaimed day is an opportunity for all of us to take time to think about residential schools and grow in our understanding of this history,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, SSBA president.
Orange Shirt Day is officially proclaimed on Sept. 30 each year and is part of a larger movement in the country to provide opportunity for First Nations, governments, schools and communities to unite in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
“Learning about our shared history by recognizing the truths about the past and advocating for understanding is vital,” Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “Everyone has a role to play in reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day provides an opportunity for our province to recognize the history and impact of residential schools as we continue on the path to healing.”
The Orange Shirt Day movement is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, B.C., in 2013. It grew out of the account of a young girl having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the mission.
Orange Shirt Day was first proclaimed in Saskatchewan in 2016, in response to a resolution passed by the province’s trustees at the SSBA Spring General Assembly.
REGINA – Efforts of Saskatchewan schools to improve student nutrition and create healthier environments are being celebrated today with the Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge’s Walk to Breakfast.
Since 2006, The Mosaic Company and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association have hosted the Challenge to encourage grassroots initiatives. Ten schools each received $10,000 earlier this year as winners of the 2019 Challenge. Among the winners was Regina Public School Division’s Arcola Community School, host of today’s Walk to Breakfast event.
“We look forward to the Walk to Breakfast event each year and are excited to be at Arcola School and hear about their Makeover Challenge winning project,” said Sarah Fedorchuk, Vice-President, Public Affairs and Government Relations at The Mosaic Company. “This event is a great way to kick off a new school year and another set of projects focused on making nutrition a daily part of student lives. We wish the ten winning schools the best of luck this fall!”
Arcola Community School’s winning project highlights include providing nutrition and life skills training, developing cookbooks to share at home and hosting family engagement days.
“Helping students learn about life-long nutrition and life skills is a lesson that helps them, their families and potentially, future generations,” said Katherine Gagne, Chairperson, Regina Board of Education. “We are grateful to Mosaic and the SSBA in making this ambitious good health project possible.”
Other winning schools this year are part of the Good Spirit, Living Sky, Northern Lights, Northwest, Regina Catholic, Saskatoon Catholic, Saskatoon Public and South East Cornerstone school divisions.
“Healthy and nutritious food plays such an important part in the overall success and well-being of students,” Regina Pasqua MLA Muhammad Fiaz said on behalf of the Minister of Education, Gordon Wyant. “I would like to commend Arcola Community School and all the other recipients for their innovative ideas and commitment to making nutrition an important part of students’ everyday lives.”
A record of more than 80 schools submitted projects to compete in 2019’s Challenge for a total of $100,000 in prizes, generously provided by Mosaic.
“We are very grateful to The Mosaic Company for the ongoing support in ensuring the health and nutrition needs of Saskatchewan students are met,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, SSBA President. “Congratulations to Arcola Community School and the other recipients.”
Backgrounder: Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge 2019 Winners
REGINA – The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) is highlighting student safety as young people across the province prepare to begin a new year of learning.
Today has been officially proclaimed as “Provincial Students’ Day” in Saskatchewan to help ensure safety is the primary consideration for students, families and communities, and especially for motorists who will be driving in and around school zones.
“The annual proclamation of Provincial Students’ Day helps to remind drivers that children and youth are back in school and that extra care for their safety is important,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA.
The Government of Saskatchewan proclaims the day each year at the SSBA’s request, with the intent of reinforcing the message of care and concern for students going back to school.
“This is an exciting time of year for the more than 190,000 students who are going back to school,” Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “There is a lot of activity in school zones and the safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance. We encourage all drivers to be vigilant throughout the year.”
Provincial Students’ Day was first proclaimed in 2010, in response to a resolution passed by the province’s trustees at the SSBA 2009 Annual General Meeting.
REGINA – Ten schools in Saskatchewan will each receive a $10,000 grant to support student nutrition after being selected to win this year’s Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge.
“The response to this program continues to grow year over year, which speaks to the need for and interest in making nutrition a daily part of student lives,” said Sarah Fedorchuk, Vice-President, Public Affairs and Government Relations at The Mosaic Company. “Helping the world grow the food it needs is our mission at Mosaic, and we look forward to hearing about the efforts of the 10 winning schools as they help connect students with food and nutrition in unique ways.”
The grants will support projects that have goals including creating or improving kitchen and garden facilities; enhancing education for students, families and communities about nutrition, food safety, life skills and Indigenous knowledge; aiding in the path toward reconciliation; and, developing or furthering breakfast, snack and other programs.
More than 80 schools from across the province submitted their projects to compete for the total of $100,000 in prizes, provided by Mosaic. Schools receiving grants as part of this year’s Mosaic Challenge are part of the Good Spirit, Greater Saskatoon Catholic, Living Sky, Northern Lights, Northwest, Regina Catholic, Regina Public, Saskatoon Public and South East Cornerstone school divisions.
To encourage grassroots initiatives to help improve student nutrition, the Mosaic Challenge began in 2006. Mosaic and the SSBA have continued to partner for the initiative since then.
“School boards across Saskatchewan are very grateful for Mosaic’s continued generosity in funding this effort to support nutrition environments,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA. “We are proud of the success for this exemplary and long-running partnership.”
Backgrounder: Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge 2019 Winners
REGINA – Saskatchewan school boards continue to call for increased investment in education, but recognize the priority areas they have identified are reflected in the provincial government’s budget for 2019-20 released today.
“Investment means being able to do more than maintain the status quo,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). “While some funding previously cut is being restored, this budget fall shorts of even status-quo levels, as opposed to the investment we wanted to see for students.”
Today’s budget includes some restoration of operational funding that was significantly cut two years ago, but the increase is not enough to fully meet pressures of growth and inflation. The budget does include announcements on designing new schools, continuing capital projects underway and increasing infrastructure maintenance and renewal. It also recognizes salary increases negotiated as part of the provincial teacher collective agreement.
In advance of the budget, school boards in Saskatchewan identified priorities for investment if funding was increased beyond the status quo, recognizing enrolment growth and inflation. Those included supports for early years, mental health and wellness, diverse classrooms, intensive needs and staffing levels and development.
“These are priorities for the future, where new investment in students would benefit Saskatchewan’s economy,” Davidson said. “We appreciate these priorities are being heard, though levels in this budget will not enable school boards to make significant new investment in these areas. Boards will be challenged just to maintain stability.”
Davidson said school boards will now be working through the individual funding allocations for their divisions to determine what exactly those will mean for the next school year.
“We have heard loud and clear from Saskatchewan people that education is a priority,” he added. “It is important to locally elected school board members that community voices and views are genuinely considered when decisions are being made about education. We recognize and appreciate the Minister of Education for listening and look forward to continued engagement.”
REGINA – If investment in education is increased beyond the status quo, school boards in Saskatchewan envision early years and mental health as two high priorities for additional support.
“We surveyed our member school boards across the province about their highest priorities and those two themes emerged consistently,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). “We could affect outcomes in these areas if we had increased investment. At the same time, these are areas in which we won’t be able to provide additional supports if funding for education remains at status-quo levels.”
In the SSBA’s recent survey, early years supports was mentioned most often, with boards referring to increasing investment to support learning at Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3 levels. Expanding mental health and wellness supports was another area mentioned by most respondents. Improving support for diverse classrooms and intensive needs were also common themes identified by boards, along with increasing staffing levels and development.
Davidson explained that ‘status quo’ funding for boards in the 2019-20 provincial budget to be released next month would mean funding levels that reflect enrolment growth and inflation, while ‘beyond the status quo’ would mean additional funding to enable improved investment.
“We want to communicate what improved investment in education means to school boards in Saskatchewan,” Davidson said. “Boards have worked hard to limit the impacts of funding cuts made two years ago, while continuing to face growth and inflation pressures. But we also have identified priorities for the future, where new investment would benefit outcomes for our province’s students.”
Survey respondents also emphasized the need for stability and predictability in education funding, a continued focus on student achievement through reconciliation and the importance of partnerships on shared priority areas.