With only one week into the school year, teachers have already been busy planning and preparing.
"Education is one of those areas where we actually get to come to a complete stop which allow all of us to stop, slow down and reflect and then begin to prepare for a new school year," explains Lynn Little, Director of Education with the South East Cornerstone Public School Division. "Each fall is a fresh and exciting new start and this year is no different."
Before Labour Day, teachers and other school staff were already meeting and preparing for the coming year.
"The board of education, along with our senior leadership team was invited last week to attend the teacher convention which was actually held at ECS. So teachers from across the whole system were the. And the excitement was palpable. Teachers were working together in grade-like groups, in interest-like groups to prepare for the students' arrival on Tuesday and those days are as exciting as when the students walk into the school on Tuesday."
It hasn't been an easy year to plan, but the school board has risen to the challenge.
"There's no doubt that the budget reductions have offered some challenges but with those challenges comes some opportunities. Last year we had an opportunity to sit down and work with our teaching staff, SECTA (South East Cornerstone Teachers' Association), to identify are their areas that we could be creative to try to come up with a way to improve the what we do things and yet save money but not impact the students and the front line."
"Kudos to the teaching force as we are delivering our prep a little different this year. 3% of that prep is being delivered on days when students aren't in the building. So that is a cost savings. As well, we are delivering all of our professional development online now which saves in transportation and allows the teachers to remain in the building working with their staff. We've also aligned those days with days when the students, whether it be vast numbers of students participating in provincial sports, so those pieces alone garnered a 1.4 million dollar. So pieces like that have really come into play."
She adds that initial feedback from teachers and staff was well received.
"So we're very hopeful that we've found something that has improved our situation."
She added that teachers have been added due to enrollment.
"Our enrollment numbers, they're very preliminary, they're based on students currently enrolled, and we hit our projection dead on. We have 8292 students and that's exactly what we had predicted."
"We do expect some fluctuation, as there often is early in the year, but for the most part, we are right on target to where had projected. When we finished school in June, we had 8219 students enrolled. We do have some schools that certainly have dropped from their projections, and at the same time, others that have exceeded their projections so we're coming in, right on par."
"We do see larger numbers of students coming in the lower end that are going out the upper grades so that's where we're seeing the increase of students and we see that trend continuing for the next couple years."
In order to plan for upcoming years, they begin in early January, February of the previous school year. They use both local knowledge and a computer program to determine the number of teachers needed in each school.
"Once that is provided, often that is given out in about March, then it it is the school administration who take a look to see where the number of student sis going to be. they have at the school, the autonomy to decide where they need what number of teachers."
Little concludes with this message:
"I'd just like to take the opportunity to wish all the students a successful academic year and really would encourage parents and community members to engage on our school community council. Students are the future of our province, they are our next generation's engineers, our farmers, our doctors, our politicians, our teachers. The more support we can give them in their education now, the stronger our community and province will be so really encourage folks to come on out and joining in the SCC."