Community Comment: Despite hurdles, SD 20 continues working for students

"Due to chronic underfunding of education, recent Boards have chosen to make cuts as far from the classroom as possible."

Trustees have continued to support the improvement of student learning for all learners in our district.

Several years ago, it was noted that student performance in our school district was slipping. This was evident in Ministry of Education student performance data. The administration team of the district presented a plan to teachers, support staff and trustees that was designed to correct this situation. All groups endorsed the plan.

The plan focused on investing in teachers and support staff as learners. The educational landscape had changed, and the district hadn’t kept up.

This needed to be corrected. The investment in teacher and support staff learning was intended to improve student outcomes by:

– providing meaningful professional development opportunities to support staff and teachers

– hiring a full time teacher as a learning coordinator, whose job it would be to support such things as the implementation of the new math curriculum

– offering seats in focused research groups so teachers could learn from each other

– bringing in outside educational experts to share their knowledge and current research into the district

– signing on to provincial initiatives aimed at improving instructional practices and student learning outcomes

The board of the day accepted this plan, and it has been supported since then.

Due to chronic underfunding of education, recent Boards have chosen to make cuts as far from the classroom as possible. This has meant that our schools have suffered from a lack of maintenance. It also means that this student achievement-focused program is contained in next year’s budget.

With this commitment to engage teachers and support staff in learning, student achievement in SD20 has been improving. This is a credit to all who have worked so hard to better serve the students of SD20.

The government of B.C. has mandated a dramatic new approach to education (BC Ed Plan), which is based on sound research and positive results in other countries and B.C. teacher education will be key to implementing the Ed. Plan successfully.

Now SD 20 has a solid culture of teacher learning which has been nourished over the last several years.

We are ready to move forward as a district, we just need the appropriate funding to do what is best for students of SD20.

Teachers’ learning opportunities are provided both on their own time after school, and during school hours.

We have challenges ahead of us:

– Insufficient government funding to operate our district

– Continued declining enrolment

– Funding the BC Ed Plan

– Maintaining the district work sites to an acceptable standard

The Board is committed to providing the best education for students of SD20.

In the next three years, the Board will deal with all challenges it faces and we will do what we can to improve education funding for public schools.

All education team members will be challenged in the next few years with the changes that are coming.

If we keep the focus of our actions on student achievement we will find many common goals. Difficult challenges face us, but as a team, SD20 employees can achieve wonders for students.

Darrel Ganzert is the chair of the School District 20 Board of Trustees

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.