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Coming to a school near you — sessions for next three-year plan

School divisions in the Lakeland turn to stakeholders, families to help set plans for next three years

LAKELAND - Over the next few weeks, the Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) and Lakeland Catholic School Divisions will be holding community engagement sessions to collect input regarding priorities for their individual three-year education plans.  

Alberta Education requires school divisions to submit their three-year plans annually. The plans must also meet certain criteria such as measurable achievement and performance outcomes, and targets to improve low or declining performance levels.    

NLPS Communications Manager Nicole Garners says in 2018-2019, school officials did an extensive consultation with stakeholders to help them set new priorities for the division. The two main priorities identified at that time were improving student mental health and improving students' numeracy skills.  

“Since it has been a few years since we sought input from stakeholders on our priorities, the Board felt it was important to have everyone review what our current priorities are and discuss what changes we may want to make before we develop our next Three-Year Education plan,” Garner told Lakeland This Week

The upcoming stakeholder meetings will begin in early February and run to early March. The first of eight engagement sessions is slated to be held at the Bonnyville Centralized High School on Feb. 7. The final session will be held at J.A. Williams High School on March 5. 

Garner says input collected during the sessions will be used to determine what NLPS priorities will be moving forward. She said the strategies that are identified to address the priorities will be implemented in schools across the division and will potentially impact student learning, programming, professional development for staff, among other things. 

“It is important that we hear from students, staff, parents, and the community as they may all play a role in helping us address our priorities,” she said. “For instance, with our current mental health priority, parents and guardians, and community organizations have played an integral role in helping us implement programming and connect students and families to services outside of our schools.” 

Parents, students, staff and residents of any community in the NLPS area can attend any of the meetings. 

“Parents and community members can attend whatever session is most convenient for them.” 

Once all the feedback has been collected, she said, it will be reviewed and used to help school officials identify what priority areas should be looked at.   

A similar process is taking place over the next three months at Catholic schools across the Lakeland. Meagan MacEachern, the communications officer with Lakeland Catholic School Division, said their sessions started Jan. 17 at Dr. Brosseau Middle School in Bonnyville. 

Other sessions are scheduled at École Notre Dame High School on Feb. 21, Assumption on March 6, Lac La Biche’s Light of Christ Catholic School on March 20, and the Holy Family Catholic School in Waskatenau on April 24.  

“Our division considers the feedback and information shared by the students when discussing the division's Education Plan,” MacEachern stated.  

Sheldon Germain, the superintendent for Lakeland Catholic School Division, said information provided by the community, in addition to annual surveys, Alberta Education Assurance Measure (AEAM) Reports and feedback from school councils and staff, inform the division’s decision-making throughout the education planning process.  

During the 2022-2023 school year, the division held community engagement sessions and student and board engagement sessions in each of its four communities.  

“These events outlined key topics surrounding education, and allowed students, staff and community members to ask questions and provide feedback,” Germain explained.  

The school division annually reviews and adjusts its three-year education plan as per requirements of Alberta Education. This, he says, ensures that the division is continuously meeting its mission and values. 

“We are currently finalizing the remaining stakeholder engagement initiatives for this year’s education planning,” Germain said.  

The three-year plans are also a financial tool used by local and provincial officials to determine spending levels in the local school system. 

Chris McGarry

About the Author: Chris McGarry

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