Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) Board Chair Arlene Hrynyk and Superintendent Roy Ripkens, met with the Minister of Education, David Eggen, on September 29th. NLSD used their time with the Minister to highlight the successes of the Inspiring Education and trades programs. As well as, express the positive experiences the division has had with full-time kindergarten. The board brought up the need for provincially funded outdoor classrooms; such as, sports fields and playgrounds. Hrynyk says the meeting with the Minister was, “definitely, well-received.”
“You could see the Minister’s eyes light up when we told him about our Trades Exposure Program and the opportunities that we were creating for students,” explains Hrynyk. The Trades Exposure Program includes the Service Rig Drilling Course, a first of its kind in Canada. The course has students in the classroom for the first semester, learning from a video-game style computer program that plays out real-life scenarios for students to solve. In the second semester students will work on an actual drilling rig, which is in full working order. NLSD celebrated the erecting of the rig on Wednesday, October 7th.
Hyrnyk says it was important for her to express the achievements the schools have had with full-time kindergarten, “Northern Lights has been a leader in this province in offering a literacy enhanced program. Recognizing that the province does not fully fund full-time kindergarten at this point, but we were definitely advocating for them to do so. At the very minimum recognize and assist the boards that are currently providing. Provincially there’s been a debate [to fund] just at risk students, at Northern Lights we believe if it makes for one, it makes for all. We shared that with the Minister.”
“We talked about sports fields and outdoor classroom funding,” says Hrynyk, “again, Northern Lights has led that conversation through provincial policy development through ASBA (Alberta School Board Association). There’s an important need for new construction, or modernization, that government allocation funds for sports fields or play grounds. We don’t feel that it should be burdened to the school councils for fundraising. There’s community and industry support, but we feel it’s time to recognize that it’s a critical aspect of learning in our education system and the government needs to look at that differently.”
Art Smith Aviation Academy’s transportation funding was another hot topic at the meeting, says Hrynyk. “It’s something we’ve been working on for quite some time. We invited the Minister to meet with [NLSD], the Department of National Services, and military families, as we try to seek resolution to the transportation issues there.”
After sharing NLSD success and concerns, the Minister was able to have a candid discussion with the pair regarding the delay of the Proclamation of the Education Act and what concerns that has on the division. They also discussed budget and restoring stability, as well as, major funding priorities that the government should focus on. NLSD shared with the Minister their capital projects are and some of the work the NLSD has done in terms of infrastructure.
“We were able to showcase to [the Minister] how Northern Lights is always interested in partnerships and interested in working more collaborating with our communities to offer education services to our students.” Hrynyk says, there’s a positive tone throughout the meeting and believes it will open doors for many more conversations.