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Letter from Creighton School Division

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.

To The Editor: Between October 10 and now, Letters to the Editor as well as various comments in The Reminder have been made which question the feasibility of adding Grades 10, 11 and 12 to programming already offered in Creighton Community School. This letter proposes to address and/or clarify points raised in The Reminder. Student achievement and academic excellence The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "Many, many students from Creighton/Denare Beach have graduated from Hapnot and won scholarships at post secondary institutions across Canada. The HBM&S scholarships are frequently won by Creighton School graduates." The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "During the 21 years I was an administrator at Hapnot, the graduating students from Flin Flon, Snow Lake, Leaf Rapids competed for the most prestigious HBM&S scholarship named the W. Green Award. Hapnot won the award 20 times out of the 21 years, yet the combined enrolment of Snow Lake Leaf Rapids was probably 30% to 40% that of Hapnot's. By numbers, they should have won the award every three years or so or seven times over the years I was principal. Why didn't they? "They had some excellent students, but I don't believe they were pushed, they didn't have the academically challenging atmosphere required." School size is not necessarily a factor in creating an academically challenging atmosphere, or a culture of excellence. There are many instances of K to 12 schools in Saskatchewan that provide a superior academic program. For example, Kinistino, Sk., has a K to 12 school, with an enrolment of 340, in which 19 students graduated from Grade 12 in 2003. Of these, 14 have gone on to post secondary training this year. These students also regularly win scholarships in competition with much larger schools like P.A. Carleton, which has some 1,980 students. Moreover, Kinistino's 2A Volleyball team has beaten the Provincial 4A and 5A champions in competition last year. Academic excellence has always been a feature of Creighton Community School, as evidenced by our Grade 8 students' performance on a Province-wide Math assessment involving some 10,500 students from all across Saskatchewan, the results of which we have just received (Nov. 17). The Creighton students scored above the provincial average in every single category of the assessment, including applications and problem solving, algebra, concepts/ procedures/ relationships, geometry and measurement, ratio and proportion, data management, calculation, estimation, and use of the calculator. See 'Students' P.# Con't from P.# Our students will continue to win many such scholarships if we extend our program to include Grades 10 to 12. The academic excellence we now foster won't suddenly stop Ð like hitting a wall Ð when our children reach Grade 10! As the quote points out, the HBM&S scholarships are frequently won by Creighton school graduates. That will continue to happen. Program class size The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "This allows Hapnot to offer many optional courses that students require with class sizes of 10 to 15 students." The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "When you have to provide a teacher for classes of 10 to 15 students, it becomes tremendously expensive. Classes of three or four are not financially feasible." The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "It is financially impossible to offer classes to 10 or 15 students or less." You can't have it both ways with regard to class sizes of 10 to 15 students. However, the question is: can we offer the appropriate program, regardless of school or class size? The answer is, YES. We have budgeted for and projected staffing to offer every course listed in the Feasibility Study. Class size is not the issue. (In fact, it is our understanding that there is a class with 4 students in it at Hapnot...) Program courses of study The Reminder, November 13, 2003: Roger Cathcart "Éa very small school will be hard pressed to offer all basic subjectsÉ" The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "If you are a parent in Creighton and your child requires Calculus, Physics, or Chemistry in order to attend university and the small high school is not able to offer it. What do you do?" The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "Because there are approximately 500 students, Hapnot is able to offer a wide variety of options, such as Band, French, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Computer Science, Art, Industrial Arts/Home Economics, etc, etc. When a community operates a high school with 90 or 100 students from grades 10 to 12 special programs such as Band, French, Industrial Arts and general level courses for average learners are difficult if not impossible to offer." First of all, we are not talking about a small school. Our projected enrolment would be well over 400, with some 100 students in Grades 10 through 12. This is smaller than Hapnot, but it is not small by any standard. (If Hapnot has 500 students, and Prince Albert Carleton High School has 1,900 students, does this mean that Hapnot is small, and by extension, of inferior quality?) The Creighton Community School would offer all of the courses referred to above, except Band. On October 24, 2003, a listing of the courses offered at Hapnot Collegiate was placed in The Reminder. There are a total of 98 course offerings, in Grades 10 through 12, including such things Zoo Keeping, French Immersion, Band, Peer Tutoring, Fitness (in addition to Phys. Ed.), etc. The High School Program envisaged for Creighton includes 76 course offerings. Six of these courses are Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) options. There are 27 PAA options, which can be offered as complete, stand-alone courses. Alternatively, we can develop survey courses, which take units of various PAA programs, and put them together to develop programs that meet our students unique requirements. Details of the program offerings proposed for Grades 10 to 12 in the Creighton Community School can be found on pages 18 to 21 of the Feasibility Study. In addition to the above course offerings, we would have an Alternate program for students who have a great deal of difficulty functioning effectively in a structured high school environment. We do this now at the Middle Years level with our Transition program. However, the nature of the academic programming (Math/English) for these students would be similar to the Transition room program, but other components would be quite unique. We would also continue to provide appropriate individualized programming for students with challenging needs, as we do now in Pre-K to Grade 9. Post-secondary The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "The provincial average for students [in Southern Manitoba] continuing on to post secondary education (university, college) is about 20 to 25%. In small community high schools the average is 10 to 15%. At Hapnot the average has been over 50% for many years." I sent the above quotation to all School Divisions in Saskatchewan. I received many responses regarding graduates of small schools in Saskatchewan going on to post-secondary training. Here are some examples. - The Landswest School Division, which has 11 high schools, the largest of which is Biggar, indicated that 82% of their grads went on to post-secondary training in 2002. - The Sask Central School Division had 199 Grade 12 students in the division last year. All but 2 completed their Grade 12, and 123 of them (62%) have gone on to post-secondary training. - In Gull Lake High School, there are 122 students in Grades 9 to 12. Last year, there were 27 graduates, 19 of whom (70%) have proceeded on to post-secondary training. Governance The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "We have had an excellent working relationship with Creighton students attending both Hapnot and Many Faces, surely we can work out a joint governance agreement." The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "A joint board of governance with representatives from Denare Beach, Creighton, Flin Flon, Big Island, and Bakers Narrows is needed to allow parents to participate in their children's education. The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Clarence Pettersen "What about a regional high school that we can all be proud of, that would include not only Flin Flon, Creighton areas, but also surrounding areasÉ" The Reminder, November 27, 2003: Jonathon Naylor "The Flin Flon School Board wants provincial legislation amended so that Creighton and Denare Beach residents may join them at the trustee table." See 'Clarify' P.# Con't from P.# From July of 2001 until November of 2002, the Creighton School Division, the Flin Flon School Division, Keewatin Community College, and Northlands College worked together to develop a Regional High School; in the end, neither provincial government would agree to fund it. Both said they couldn't spend money in another province. Part of these discussions included governance. The Flin Flon Board and the Creighton Board continued these discussions until June of 2003, with regard to Creighton representation on the Flin Flon Board, at which time it was mutually decided to leave everything as it was. Extra-curricular activities The Gazette, October 31, 2003: Brian Taylor "As to sports, he [a former Creighton student now attending Many Faces] told me that many of his friends did not partake in school sports because if they didn't have a ride to and from the games, what is the sense of participating? (he was not the only one who mentioned this problem.)" The Creighton School Division currently provides transportation for Denare Beach students for after-hours extra-curricular activities in order that all students might have an equal opportunity to participate. We also provide transportation for community school activities in the evening. The same transportation service will continue, and would be expanded as needed for high school students. The Reminder, November 6, 2003: Glenn Smith "Extracurricular activities are also difficult to maintain. School sports, choir, drama, etc., fall by the wayside." We currently offer many extra-curricular activities at the Middle Years level, including all of the above. We also have very successful Choir and Drama programs, a Student Leadership Council, Yearbook, etc. Our students travel to such places as Swan River, Prince Albert, Quill Lake, Melfort, La Ronge, The Pas, Regina, Hudson Bay, Carrot River, as well as Flin Flon, to compete in various sports, such as volleyball, basketball, badminton, track and field, flag football, cross-country running and skiing, etc. These would all continue, and be expanded to include the high school students. The Reminder, November 13, 2003: Roger Cathcart "Under Manitoba Athletic Association rules, no Creighton students would be eligible to play on Hapnot school teams unless they are registered at the school." The Creighton students would be playing on Creighton Community School teams under the jurisdiction of the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association. We would be competing in District, Zone, and Provincial Championships in Saskatchewan. Finance The Reminder, November 13, 2003: Roger Cathcart "It should be mentioned that government funding provides only slightly over half of school costsÉ" The Provincial Government provides 65% of the funding for the Creighton School Division, with local taxpayers supplying the rest. The Reminder, November 13, 2003: Roger Cathcart "One advantage cited for including grades 10 B 12 is that the Creighton school division would save $300,000 per year by not having to pay non-resident fees to Flin Flon..." The Reminder, November 20, 2003: Jonathon Naylor Naylor said that Mayor Dennis Ballard "cast doubt on the projection that the [Creighton School] division would save some $300,000 per year by adding the new grades [10 to 12]É. I don't buy the argument that you'll be able to get all these other grants out there." The Reminder, November 21, 2003: Glenn Smith "I questioned the ability of Creighton to save any money when they try to operate a school with 30 or 40 students per grade." We are not talking about saving $300,000. We are talking about having a surplus of $300,000 in revenue over expenditure, over and above the $910,000 we now pay to Flin Flon. Much of this surplus will come from grants we would receive, if we had a high school, that we don't receive now. These grants include Technology ($157 per student), Core Actualization ($43 per student), Diversity Factor ($404 per student), School Plus ($75 per student), Shared Service ($127 per student), and Community School ($375 per student). Right now, we get these grants for our students in K through Grade 9. We do not get them for our students in Grades 10 through 12, because they are classified as Flin Flon students. If they were enrolled in Creighton Community School, we would get these grants for them, as does every other School Division in Saskatchewan. There is also the basic grant per student, which we get now. When we calculate the expenses for educating these additional students, and compare it with the revenue which we would have, the revenue exceeds the expenses by some $300,000. This is not a saving, but rather a surplus of revenue over expenditures. Thus, we would have the $910,000 we pay to Flin Flon, as well as an additional $300,000 to operate our high school. You can operate an excellent high school with $1,200,000 per year. There are savings as well. For example, we pay approximately 1/5 of the maintenance, utilities, etc. for Hapnot and Many Faces. We also pay a portion of system administration costs. There are also transportation costs that could be considered when looking at savings. We would no longer incur these costs. However, the Feasibility Study did not explore the area of savings, because we do not have access to the detailed information that would be required to calculate these figures. The task force and process The Reminder, November 13, 2003: Roger Cathcart "It is unfortunate that the Creighton board of education did not include any outside educators or professionals in drafting the report." We included the following outside educators. - Eugene Paquin, Curriculum and Instruction Consultant, P.A.G.C. - Keith Powell, Sp. Ed. Coordinator, Creighton S.D. 111 - Neil Sherwin-Shields, Principal, Wesmor Community H.S., P.A. - Ellery Peters, Director of Education, Estevan Rural, Public & Comprehensive S.D.'s - Chris Todd, Superintendent Curriculum & Instruction, Sask. Learning - Bill McLaughlin, CEO, Northlands College - Ordean Goulet, Regional Director B Eastern Region, Northlands College In addition, the task force visited the following K to 12 schools to examine their operation. We randomly selected these schools to visit strictly on the basis of their enrolments. - Wesmor Community H.S., Prince Albert (9 to 12) B enrollment: 357 - Clavet Composite School, Clavet (K to 12) B enrollment: 500 - Aberdeen Composite School, Aberdeen (K to 12) B enrollment: 433 - Lord Asquith School, Asquith (K to 12) B enrollment: 325 - Biggar Central School 2000, Biggar (K to 12) B enrollment: 428 - Kinistino School, Kinistino, (K to 12) B enrollment: 340 - Birch Hills Composite School, Birch Hills, (K to 12) B enrollment: 490 So what's it all about??? In the October 31, 2003, issue of The Gazette, Brian Taylor states: "Their [The Creighton School Division's] plan is geared for a greater involvement by the students as well as a better rapport among students, teachers, families, and the community. Student activities are geared to enrich their school life, social skills, leadership skills and skills to benefit them in post-high school life. "By teaching their high school students, more provincial funds and scholarships will be made available to the Creighton School system. "These funds will be used for programs for the betterment of a student's education, both academic and personal growth, to make them more beneficial future citizens." I hope the above information has clarified some points for your readers. Thank you for considering the above. Yours truly, Austin Gerein, Director of Education, Creighton School Division No. 111