Saskatchewan’s provincial election is on Oct. 26. The Saskatchewan School Boards Association represents all 27 school boards in the province. With this open letter, we are sharing our priorities for the future of education and seeking the views of those who are running for office.
First, in these exceptional times, we want to emphasize that health, safety and wellbeing are absolute priorities for boards during the pandemic and going forward. We also know that education is the best long-term investment we can make for our province and our economy.
School boards are locally elected to bring forth the local voices of their communities. Our role is to consider all the factors needed for a properly resourced classroom. Looking ahead, we have identified three priority areas for education: Innovation, Inclusion and Investment.
Innovation is about navigating technology and using new practices. We need to make sure our curriculum and resources are based on the best ideas available and centered on our students.
Inclusion is about people and relationships. We need our schools to be welcoming and engaging. We need to keep committing to reconciliation. We need to support local decision-making.
Investment is about resources and working together. We need sufficient and stable funding. We need a team effort to set education property tax rates and to provide supports to our students.
We encourage you to ask candidates what their priorities are for education. What does innovation look like to them? What does inclusive education mean to them? And what investment do they think is required to ensure success for all students? Do they support strengthening partnerships and respecting the role of locally elected school boards?
We also invite you to share the priorities you have for education.
Dr. Shawn Davidson
REGINA – Joining with communities across the country, schools throughout the province will again be officially recognizing “Orange Shirt Day” on Wednesday, Sept. 30, as requested annually by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA).
“The SSBA, on behalf of our 27 member boards of education, are encouraging school communities, and all residents of the province, to participate in Orange Shirt Day by wearing orange and taking the time to reflect on residential schools this Wednesday,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, SSBA president.
“This special day that we recognize each year represents an opportunity for each one of us to think about residential schools, expand our understanding of this history and commit to growing together through education toward reconciliation,” Davidson added.
Orange Shirt Day is part of a larger movement in the country to provide opportunity to unite in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for future generations. The movement is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event held in B.C. in 2013, emerging out of the account of a young girl having her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school.
The 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. The Government of Saskatchewan proclaims the day each year at the SSBA’s request.
“Orange Shirt Day is an important opportunity to learn more about the history of the residential school experience and its impacts,” Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “Participating in Orange Shirt Day provides a chance to bring schools and communities together on a shared path toward reconciliation.”
REGINA – As students begin returning to school, Tuesday, Sept. 8 has been officially proclaimed “Provincial Students’ Day” in Saskatchewan, as requested annually by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA).
“We know pandemic-related safety is top-of-mind in our communities as school resumes this fall under unprecedented circumstances,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA.
“We also know that school zones might look different this year, with, in some communities, families being encouraged to transport their children and the possibility of staggered drop-off times. With those factors in mind, we think it’s important as-ever to issue a reminder about school-zone safety. We are encouraging all Saskatchewan communities to pay close attention as our roads, walkways and school zones get busier with returning students and staff,” Davidson continued.
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. It is usually proclaimed on the first Tuesday of September. This year, it was moved to coincide with the change in school-year start.
The day has always been focused on helping 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 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 to and from school.
“The safety of our students and school staff continues to be paramount during these challenging times, both in the classroom and as our students come to and from school,” Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant said. “School zones will have increased activity so we ask all drivers to remain cautious.”
REGINA – The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) recognizes that the provincial government has committed to supporting schools financially, considering the pandemic context and challenges to fiscal capacity, with today’s 2020-21 budget announcement.
“We will continue working closely with government and all of our sector partners to ensure safety during the pandemic and supports for the education system going forward,” said SSBA President Dr. Shawn Davidson. “The SSBA is appreciative of the commitment to education represented in the operating and capital funding re-iterated in today’s budget announcement.”
Davidson said the budget provides some assurance to school boards about their operations, which remain in a state of pandemic response, and removes an element of uncertainty going forward.
“The government has taken a step toward addressing calls for predictability, with an allocation of operating funding that reflects pressures of enrolment and inflation,” he said. “Capital investment is also significant. Operating funding levels for 2020-21 will enable boards to continue doing what they need to do at a base level, though fall short of the significant investment we hoped for to help address some of the challenges in classrooms.”
The full effects of the budget will be better understood going forward as pandemic response and planning for the fall continues, Davidson noted.
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 success of this program grows year over year, thanks in large part to the commitment from educators in our province,” said Sarah Fedorchuk, The Mosaic Company’s Vice President, Public Affairs & Government Relations, North America. “Now, in its 14th year, Mosaic remains committed to funding the Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge to ensure 10 more schools can provide healthier school environments for their students.”
The grants will support winning projects that have goals including building or renovating kitchen, garden and other indoor and outdoor facilities; enhancing, through courses, clubs and other efforts, the learning opportunities available for students, families and communities about topics including nutrition, cooking, Indigenous traditional knowledge and environmental sustainability; promoting reconciliation and celebrating cultures; and, implementing or increasing breakfast, lunch and other programs.
Schools from across the province submitted their projects to compete for the total of $100,000 in prizes, provided by Mosaic. Schools receiving grants this year are part of the Good Spirit, Greater Saskatoon Catholic, Horizon, North East, Prairie South, Regina Catholic, Saskatchewan Rivers, Saskatoon Public and South East Cornerstone school divisions and the Muskoday First Nation.
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.
“Mosaic has been a very generous partner in support of improved nutrition environments for the students of our province and we are pleased to continue this program during these unprecedented times,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA. “Saskatchewan’s 27 school boards are thankful for Mosaic’s ongoing commitment.”
Backgrounder: Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge 2020 Winners
REGINA – Saskatchewan Rivers Public Board of Education and Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change have received the 2019 Premier’s Board of Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in Education for the submission of “Empowering Students and Responding to Student Voice: A Student-led Pathway to Improve Student Outcomes.”
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) co-ordinates the Premier’s Award each year. The award was presented on behalf of Premier Scott Moe during the SSBA Annual General Assembly on Monday evening in Regina.
“Congratulations to Saskatchewan Rivers School Division for winning this year’s award,” Honourable Lori Carr, Minister of Government Relations and MLA for Estevan, said on behalf of Premier Moe. “The Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change council will give students valuable leadership skills and an opportunity to have their voice heard by the board of trustees. This experience will benefit them well beyond high school.”
In its application for the award, Saskatchewan Rivers said its board, along with a team of students, implemented a division-wide council known as the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, which regularly discusses challenges and opportunities, takes part in leadership and learning, plans actions and events and advocates for student learning and well-being. The council provides advice and perspective directly to the board through elected student trustees.
“School board trustees work to ensure that the students in their schools get a good education and have positive experiences as they learn,” said Barry Hollick, Saskatchewan Rivers chair. “We are so pleased that this initiative to involve students in the governance of our school division provides them the opportunity to lead change and affect student achievement and outcomes. It has also enhanced the board’s awareness of student concerns and issues.”
The $3,000 award has been sponsored by Xerox Canada since its development in 1999, making this year the 20th anniversary of the award program. The award recipient is recommended by a panel of education sector partners.
“Xerox is proud to again sponsor the Premier’s Award,” said Karl Boissonneault, Vice President, Canadian Channel Operations, Xerox Canada. “Xerox has seen many changes over the 113 years of our existence and also made fundamental contributions to how work gets done every day. In celebrating the 20th anniversary of our partnership, we are excited that we can once again do our part to support school boards to bring innovation to the forefront and ensure that we continue to invest in and improve the future education of our young people.”
The Premier’s Award recognizes educational innovations and improvements focused on student achievement that have been advanced or directed by school boards. The prize is used to support or extend the innovation or project.
“Upon the 20th anniversary of this program, we are very appreciative of Xerox Canada for highlighting the great work being done by school boards throughout the province,” said SSBA President Dr. Shawn Davidson. “Each submission is worthy of recognition for promoting efforts to help ensure success for all students. Congratulations to the recipients.”
At its assembly, the SSBA also recognized Bernie Howe (Prairie Spirit Board of Education) with a life membership.