By Cole Parkinson
While the school year has kicked into full gear, the Horizon school board of trustees is continuing to explore updates to a number of their policies.
During the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 7, the board viewed nine policies in need of updates.
“All of these policies are a direct result of the Education Act being proclaimed. There were 23 regulations being updated and the ones that have some changes that are more significant, have come forward to the board,” explained Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools for Horizon School Division.
The first was Policy FD — Disposal of Division Property which now states ‘the board of Trustees of Horizon School Division shall follow the procedures of this policy when disposing of surplus, unserviceable, and/or obsolete real or personal property belonging to the school division.’ Within the policy, real property is defined as permanent and immovable property that has become permanently affixed to land or a building and personal is movable, including furniture/equipment that is not affixed to a building et cetera.
“This one is, in particular, in regard to how you dissolve division property,” said Tymensen, who also stated he was looking for feedback on the dollar values that had been updated.
The line, in particular was ‘the disposition/sale of real property over $100,000 and personal property that has a value of more than $50,000 shall be undertaken by the Associate Superintendent’. Originally, the values were $50,000 and $10,000 respectively, and the board decided to change those values back.
Next was Policy GC — Superintendent of Schools.
The policy now states the board ‘believes that the superintendent is the Chief Executive Officer of the board and the administrative head of all components of the school system. The superintendent is also the chief education officer of the division and is ultimately responsible for the program and services for students. This responsibility may be delegated but the superintendent shall remain wholly accountable to the board and shall report directly to it.’
“You used to have a bunch of standards that you used to evaluate me. What I did here with the new superintendent leadership quality standards, which are the credentials and standards that a superintendent has to meet in Alberta, so I moved the old ones and replaced them with the new provincial standards,” explained Tymensen.
Continuing, the trustees got a chance to view Policy GCNO — Family School Liaison which states the board ‘believes that summative evaluation is a judgmental process designed to facilitate decisions about the competence of an employee. This policy operates under the assumption that an evaluation process may be imitated to generate data for making well-informed and fair employment decisions.’
Tymensen explained Policy GCNO was very similar to policies passed earlier in the school year regarding teachers and support staff.
“In August, you approved the evaluation of teachers and support staff. This is an evaluation policy that is being updated so it really aligns the evaluation of professional counsellors, similar to how we evaluate teachers in regard to process,” he said.
The next policy was Policy HGBG — Home Education, which deals with homeschooling.
It now states the board ‘acknowledges that a parent or guardian has the right under Section 20 of the Education Act to provide home education for their child(ren). The board will support parents wishing to home educate with the jurisdiction if the home education program meets the requirements of provincial regulation.’
“It’s minor changes just in regard to aligning with the regulation. We have a very small number of children homeschooling, maybe a handful that does that. I know the board has had conversations in the past around homeschooling. We do have a large segment within our geographic boundary that does home school. They are affiliated with a private school typically and have nothing to do with our regulation or practice,” continued Tymensen.
Policy IFH — Formal Parent/Student Appeals and Dispute Resolution was next and it states the board recognizes ‘a formal process must be in place permitting parents (as defined in the Education Act) and students (16 years of age or older) a method of appeal that respects the resolution of disputes or concerns at the school level between parents and school staff, and supports a co-operative and collaborative learning environment for students.’
“We used to have a formal parent and student appeal policy but it didn’t necessarily address the notion of dispute resolution. The Education Act says that you must have a policy that addresses dispute resolution so it has been added to this policy,” added Tymensen.
The trustees also looked at Policy JFCH — Illicit and Controlled Substances and Medical Management.
“This is in regards to legislation that was passed in the last sitting of the legislature. If I am not mistaken, it was Life-Threatening Allergies Act, or it may have been a bill. It was in regard to EpiPens and anaphylaxis and there is a legal requirement for school divisions to have specific content in their medical plans and have EpiPens in every school. That takes effect on January 1, 2020,” explained Tymensen. “Under this legislation, you will be able to grab an EpiPen and inject any student, whether or not you have permission from the family. If you don’t inject them, they could be dead within a minute.”
The penultimate policy viewed by the board was Police JHF — Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments which is around ‘protecting the rights of each staff member employed by the board and each student enrolled in a school operated by the board as is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Alberta Human Rights Act and Alberta Education Act.’
For the final policy, trustees viewed Policy JMA — School Councils.
“Early Learning parents can now be on school council. Previously, they were not considered part of the school under the legislation so they would not be included in that but now they are. The second piece is now it explicitly states within the legislation that school councils cannot raise funds that require a gaming licence,” stated Tymensen.
The various policies discussed had first readings passed unanimously by the board.