Superintendent of Schools – Spring is budget season for most school jurisdictions. By the time we are into March, most of our planning efforts are focused on the following school year. You might be thinking spending $250-$275 million would be fun and easy, but you would be surprised. There is never enough money to do everything you want to, so it comes down to tough choices. When building a budget, it is important to remember that we are spending taxpayers’ money and our focus needs to be on students. Other guiding documents are the Four Year Plan, Guide to Education, Board budget priorities, collective agreements/terms of employment, ongoing contracts and others.
In RVS we have a distributed budget development model. There are many groups and individuals that are part of the budget development process. The main budget process ends with me (as Superintendent) bringing forward a budget recommendation to our Board of Trustees. It is the Board’s responsibility to pass the final budget. In the fall, the Board will also pass a revised budget once we know how many actual students we have at the end of September.
The majority of the money goes out to schools. In the end, we will spend over $200 million on staff in RVS. How do we allocate money out to schools? A committee of Education Centre staff and school principals work on an allocation formula. Our Schools department reviews enrolment projections and builds a school configuration for every K-8/9 school based on our class size guidelines. That configuration tells us how many teachers we need to allocate and fund for each K-8/9 school. Additionally, at elementary, we allocate support for a number of areas including: learning support, inclusive education supports, Child Development Advisor (CDA) time, admin time, tech support time, supply money, and about another dozen items. Our high schools are given a per student allocation along with a few targeted allocations (e.g. inclusive education supports, instructional resource fee replacement, supervision, ESL). Principals build their budget, in consultation with School Council, based on the funds generated through enrolments and specific allocations. School budgets vary mostly based on the student population of the school with our smallest schools working with about $1.6 million and our largest with about $6.2 million. I anticipate school-based budgets will total over $187 million in 2018/19.
On top of school budgets, there will be approximately $70 million allocated to staff leaves, centralized learning supports, technology, preschool intervention programs, health and safety, HR, central administration, finance, maintenance, caretaking, student transportation, grounds, trustees, communications, and other centralized functions supporting schools and students. These centralized budgets are developed by each department/branch and are brought to the senior executive table for review. We review every line request. We need to tie our centralized expenditures to the Four Year Plan and Board’s budget priorities, while addressing the operational needs of the division along with centralized supports for our schools and staff.
We have amazing people on our finance team that help schools and departments through this process. In the end, we can never afford everything we would like to do and support. We make sure our focus is on students and how we can allocate the money to support their learning. We have about a month before the Board ultimately decides on the budget.
Superintendent of Schools – Multiple times this past weekend when I sat at the keyboard to compose this week’s blog, I tried to write about different topics, but I just could not. My brain, heart and fingers needed to write about the Humboldt Broncos. The tragedy struck close to home for many of us with direct and indirect connections to the incident.
I had many tears this weekend as the news broke and the enormity sunk it. Like many of you, my house is a hockey household. Riding buses with sports teams is part of our life. These bus trips are not unique to hockey, as I spent many hours riding a bus to track events when I was younger. Travel is a big part of teams, clubs, and activities, and that travel can be some of the most memorable parts of the event. That said, every parent is relieved when the bus pulls around the corner and is back at the pick-up point, no matter what time it is in the middle of the night.
Given we have almost 27,500 students and staff, unfortunately we face loss all too often in our extended RVS family. We have many people in our communities directly impacted by this accident. To those people, please understand that you are in our thoughts! We also know that our students and staff are travelling to and from school for field trips, sporting events, and non-curricular travel outside of our communities, province and country. Just like parents, we are relieved when the bus or flight lands with everyone safe and sound. One only needs to remember the Boys in Red from Bathurst, New Brunswick where seven high school basketball players and the coach’s wife died in an accident returning home from games.
We also know that schools, not only in Humboldt, but also in the hometowns of all who were injured or died, will be hurting. The impact will be felt not just this week, but for a significant amount of time and will never be forgotten. To those school communities, we are with you in your sorrow and want to support you.
Others who have experienced loss or trauma in their life will be impacted by this tragedy. We know that events such as these bring up difficult memories and experiences. Please reach out and talk to someone. Albert Health Services has posted the following information for people looking for support – AHS Grieving Together site.
I encourage you to join me on Thursday, April 12 in wearing a sports team jersey of any kind to show your support and be part of the team supporting the victims.
Lastly, I want to share my deepest sympathy and condolences to the players, families, friends, and organization. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you to the many first responders for all that you did and your efforts. You are in my thoughts too.
Superintendent of Schools – This past week I have been in Boston for ASCD‘s annual teaching and learning conference – Empower18. Since their founding in 1943, “ASCD has been a leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner.” I have been to this conference once before in 2014 and I quite enjoyed it. This year’s event drew 7,500 teachers, principals, and division leaders from across the globe. The event has a blend of major national/international presenters beside people like you and me from school divisions across the US and Canada.
In each session I try and tweet out a few tweets about key messages I heard. Rather than write a separate piece about my experience, I thought I would highlight a few of the key tweets that I wrote over the days of the conference.
If you are interested, next year’s event is in Chicago on March 16–18, 2019.
Superintendent of Schools – Recently a group of teachers, principals, assistant principals and Education Centre leaders met for one of our regular Administrative Procedure Advisory Committee (APAC) meetings. No matter what K-12 school division you look at, they will be guided by policy and procedures and RVS is no different. By documenting various processes about how we operate, it allows for consistency across our division and transparency.
About two years ago, the Board undertook a massive project to review their policy handbook. In the end, the Board kept about 25 of the former policies, while nearly 200 former policies were changed to be administrative procedures (AP). What is the difference between a policy and procedure? Policies are the work of Board and needs Board approval to add, modify or remove any policy. The Board actually has policy about how it reviews and develops its own policies (Policy 10). Administrative procedures are in the “sandbox” of the Superintendent. Authority is delegated by the board to the Superintendent to create, modify and delete procedures. The Board gets to decide what topics or items it is delegating and which they want to maintain. The Board can choose to move a matter from procedure back to policy.
This APAC meeting was similar to others where we sit together and review, word-by-word, a selection of new or modified procedures. Various departments in the Education Centre bring to me various changes or, in some cases, new administrative procedures for consideration. If the change is minor, then I just approve the change and we post the changed AP to our website and make note in the next Replay or Essentials eNewsletter. For larger changes or new APs, I will often bring them to the committee for review. Each of the committee members brings a different lens to the review and that can be very helpful. Ultimately, the responsibility for administrative procedures remain with the Superintendent.
A quick thank you to the various committee members for your contributions in helping shape RVS’ administrative procedures. Follow the links to see all of RVS’ policies and administrative procedures.
Superintendent of Schools – We are so lucky in RVS to have people step up and volunteer their time, energy and expertise in coaching sports teams, sponsoring clubs, leading student performances or directing bands to name a few. Like many of our students, I too have been positively impacted through the contributions of various coaches. A couple of weeks ago an important coach in my life passed away and I want to share a bit about Lyle Sanderson.
Some of you know that I used to be a sprinter back in “the day”. I started track and field when I hurt my shoulder, limiting my ability to play baseball in the spring of my Grade 10 year. A community volunteer coach from my high school, Brian, convinced me to come out after school to train while I was rehabbing my shoulder. It only took me a few days to realize that it was actually fun. I liked to compete and was naturally pretty quick, so track worked for me. My shoulder was feeling better, but I stuck with the training for track. By Grade 11, I had transitioned over to track from baseball as my primary sport. Over my Grade 11 summer I got to travel across the prairies sprinting and I was hooked. I met for the first time Mr. Lyle Sanderson, long time head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Track and Field team. Lyle was down to earth and an incredibly humble and kind man. Lyle already had built a very strong program at the U of S and trained a number of Olympians. He was a national team coach at numerous Olympics and World Championships, yet he came over to introduce himself to me, a decent Grade 11 sprinter and that made a lasting impression on me.
In Grade 12 I ended up winning the high school 100m provincial championship. One of the first people over to visit and congratulate me was Lyle. He was not putting on a sales pitch to get me to come to the U of S, but rather he was excited for me, a kid from Moose Jaw who only recently started track and was improving. Lyle was just as supportive for the kid from Piapot, SK (where Lyle actually grew up) who finished last. Lyle was just … supportive.
In the fall of 1985, I moved to Saskatoon to run track. Oh yeah, and get a teaching degree. Interestingly enough, Lyle was never my actual event coach. I was lucky to get connected with Ivan, a former sprinter who was a new sprint coach with the Huskies. Lyle was the head coach and coached a different group of athletes. Even with Ivan as my event coach, Lyle was always there. Always positive, supportive and caring. He asked the right questions at the right time. He had the ability to know or see what you needed at that specific time and offer some advice or positive comment. He just had that ability to connect with people. I was not special; Lyle connected with everyone.
For the next five years I spent much of my waking time related to track to field. I was training, racing, socializing with fellow athletes, helping football players with their off-season conditioning, coaching at schools/camps, being a leader on the sports council and anything else related to the sport. I managed to even go to class and get a degree and Lyle had a part of that too!
When we went on road trips for competitions or training camps often Lyle would be there. Lyle loved the time on buses as a time to bond, connect, play cards, tell stories or nap. We would be on a bus, heading to somewhere and when we got close to the track or hotel, then Lyle would get on the bus PA system and always start with two blows into the microphone to ensure the PA was working, “Fff, fff… okay listen up gang.” He ALWAYS started with that. To this day, I will often call a group of people a “gang”.
When I graduated university, I was blessed to still be connected to Lyle through coaching and friendship. Even after I left Saskatoon, I would come back for a week to coach at a camp. I always would run into Lyle at the track and we would have a great chat. We would laugh and remember something that happened on a training trip to LA or when I fell trying to pass the baton to Rogal. Lyle finally retired from the U of S in about 2005 after being the U of S track and field head coach for 39 years. Lyle’s accomplishments include being a member of the University of Saskatchewan Athletic Wall of Fame, the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Track and Field Hall of Fame. He has also represented Canada at the Olympic Games, FISU Games, Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games and the world track and field championships. He wore the red and white of Canada 54 times. He led the Huskies to 33 Canada West titles and 10 national championships, including the Huskies’ first-ever national title in 1968.
Thanks Lyle for all that you did for me. My thoughts are with your family. Many of Lyle’s athletes will return to Saskatoon this week to be a part of the celebration of his life and contributions.