By Cole Parkinson
Schools have been back in session since late August and the Horizon school board has been busy reviewing several policies.
During the board’s regular meeting on Sept. 28, three policies were in front of board members for review.
The first was Policy BE — Wards.
The board originally discussed the issue of electoral wards and any changes they would want to see at their June and August meetings.
The board made it clear to administration they were open to a review of their ward boundaries which brought forward a policy.
“The board of trustees of Horizon School Division shall review the existing board structure and ward boundaries prior to Dec. 31 of the year preceding the local authorities election. As a result of this review, a bylaw shall be passed to either affirm or amend the existing board structure and ward boundaries,” reads the policy.
With an election coming in fall 2021, any changes suggested by the board would need to be implemented before the end of the year.
“I think we should look at community attendance. You keep the number of wards you have and the number of trustees you have. You don’t look at landmass because that doesn’t mean anything,” stated vice-chair Bruce Francis.
One issue in determining the population of the areas is no definite stats backing up where students go to school as many areas have multiple school divisions.
“Part of our dilemma becomes, when Phil (Johansen, associate superintendent of finance and operations) collects population numbers, he’ll get numbers from the County of Vulcan but half of those don’t reside in our jurisdiction. The data he gets, he may be able to determine how many are living in the community of Lomond but how many are living within the attendance area of the Enchant/Lomond school area? He won’t be able to pull up specific numbers and he can’t differentiate catholic and public. The population numbers he has are limited,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools.
A motion to carry the first reading of the policy was carried 6-1 with board member Derek Baron in opposition.
Baron further explained he wanted more data before moving ahead with second and third readings.
“I’m not completely opposed to it,” he added.
The policy will be brought back to the next board meeting for further discussion.
The next policy was HCE — Instructional Replacement Personnel which states “The board of trustees of the Horizon School Division believe that competent and qualified teachers should be employed to perform the duties of a substitute teacher in schools. When certified teachers are not available for substitute teaching, competent and qualified classroom supervisors may be employed to perform the duties of the substitute teacher.”
The board discussed the policy and carried first reading at their August meeting.
“The intent of the policy hasn’t changed, although some of the wording has changed. Ultimately, what it does is, it provides teachers with the ability when they are sick and they are unable to find a certified teacher as a sub, it allows them the opportunity to bring in a classroom supervisor who is not a teacher. It is basically a last-ditch effort,” explained Tymensen.
He once again explained teachers would have to search for a substitute teacher each day they were out sick before requesting an adult supervisor.
“We’ve never had the need for this as we’ve always had enough subs on the list,” added Tymensen.
Second and third readings were carried unanimously by the board.
The final policy was GCBC — LAPP Membership.
“The board of trustees of Horizon School Division shall provide membership in the local authorities pension plan (LAPP) to the categories of employees deemed to be of a permanent nature,” reads the policy.
The biggest change in the policy was adding the mental health capacity building coordinator in the list of permanent employees. Membership in the LAPP allows members to accumulate pensionable service and salary toward eventual benefit payments.
“The proposal is simply to stick with what past practice has been. Put that category actually in the policy so they can continue to qualify,” added Tymensen.
First, second and third readings were all carried unanimously.