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From the Flin Flon School Board

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

Since the release of the Creighton School Division's feasibility study on opening a high school in Creighton, there has been considerable debate within our area on the advantages and disadvantages that would result in such a decision. The Flin Flon School Division has been reluctant to respond, principally because we understand that it will be the Creighton School Board that will make that decision. The Creighton board has indicated that there will be a series of meetings with Creighton and Denare Beach residents, and Creighton Community School staff and students next week. The Flin Flon Board of Trustees believes that some additional information will be helpful for the citizens of Creighton and Denare Beach as these public discussions occur. As educators, we believe that it is through information gathering and an understanding of the benefits and costs that a wise decision may be reached. The FFSD Board would have preferred more time between the joint meeting of the boards and the public meetings so that we had a better understanding of the issues. This was not possible. The feasibility study was released on October 14 and reviewed by the FFSD Board that evening at their regular board meeting. The FFSD trustees felt it would be best to wait until after the Creighton School Board elections which were held on October 23, as it would be the new board that will be making the final decision. Shortly after he election, FFSD approached the Creighton board for a meeting to discuss the issue. The Creighton board was unable to meet until the return of their Director of Education, some time after November 18. The meeting of both boards was confirmed for December 4. We hope this meeting identified the key issues; however, there are a number of potential issues on which information may be helpful to the general public. Financial - The money FFSD receives for educating Creighton School Division students is based on average per student expenditures (only what the actual costs are) for all high school students. For the 2002-03 school year this was $6,790 per student. For the 2002 calendar year, the per student funding for Creighton School Division was $8,788 per student. This included capital costs and continuing to build their division surplus. Actual expenditures for each student from Creighton and Denare Beach was $8,086. These expenditures were supported by a basic grant for high school students by the Province of Saskatchewan of $6,700. The cost to the Creighton taxpayers to have their children educated in Flin Flon was $90 per high school student. The Creighton School Board does lose some provincial revenue (approximately $1,000 per student) through targeted grants because the students are not educated in Saskatchewan. See 'Work' P.# Con't from P.# We would like to work with Creighton and Saskatchewan Education to find ways (perhaps through governance, student transfers, programming and detailed expenditures) to help Creighton/Denare Beach residents access these grants. Governance - The FFSD Board of Trustees have discussed three models. One method is to form a joint standing committee, with members of both boards, that would meet periodically with high school administrators to discuss local issues. While this would not be a decision making body (decisions would have to come back through each board), this could be an excellent communication tool to deal with specific school topics. A second method is to have a Creighton trustee on the FFSD Board. This has been discussed previously between the boards. There are legislative limitations that require trustees to be resident electors of the division in order to have voting rights and access to confidential information. However, there may be some operational methods that can be done to provide fair representation, such as an agreement between the boards that outlines how local decisions will be made. In fact, this is already being done in a few Manitoba divisions that provide for band representatives who are not citizens of the division. Furthermore, the FFSD Board of Trustees passed a motion to formally request that the Manitoba Government and Department of Education make the necessary changes that will allow a Creighton/Denare Beach representative to have full trustee status. The third model is Joint Governance. This is already being done in Lloydminster, which operates with one board composed of representatives from both provinces that govern all education from both boards to petition both provinces to work with us in developing a broader community vision. Space - Creighton is faced with declining enrollment (just as Flin Flon is) and are considering how to maximize the use of their facility and staff. The FFSD Board has looked at possible scenarios of moving students presently educated in FFSD facilities into the Creighton Community School. The issue may really come down to one of philosophical beliefs Ð the desire of some Creighton and Denare Beach residents to have their own identity and their own high school. The number of feasibility studies that have been completed over the last 29 years suggests that this feeling is deep seeded for some and no matter what the FFSD is able to offer, no matter how successful the programming, it is simply, Creighton wants their own high school. We believe the reality of our situation in declining community populations is, now more than ever, forcing us to find ways to work more closely together. We live, work and play within a small geographic area, yet the provincial boundary has separated us. Can we find ways to use the boundary to our mutual benefit? Presently, all high school students have 'home status' in post secondary institutions in both provinces. We have worked together to ensure students are well prepared for post secondary education regardless of which province. For example, some high school courses are based on the U of S curriculum, high school staff have worked with Creighton Community School staff to ensure students enter high school with the prerequisite skills and that courses taught at high school match the curricula from Saskatchewan universities. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the feasibility study is that it has forced us all to have conversation about the vision of our community. Our educational communities are at a fork in the road. One fork will take us towards working even more closely together, maximizing the use of resources, and using the provincial boundary as a benefit. The other will allow each community to go their own separate way. We all need to consider what is best for the collective students in our area!