The New Year in FSD

John Bailey-FSDBy John Bailey, Superintendent of Schools

Happy New Year! I trust you had an enjoyable holiday break with your loved ones, and that you find yourself rejuvenated as we embark on a new year.

Typically when the calendar turns to January, many people make resolutions and view it as the opportunity for a fresh start.

As a school division, Foothills’ Combined Annual Education Results Report (AERR) and Three Year Education Plan, approved by our Board of Trustees in early December, and our schools’ individual Education Plans are the equivalent of FSD’s New Year’s “resolutions.” These plans set out the strategies that will guide our work to improve student learning.

While student achievement results in FSD remained strong in 2013-2014 and we continued to see incremental growth in student achievement data, particularly in the acceptable standard relative to provincial achievement data, we are always striving to improve.

Accordingly, heading the list of our key objectives for the balance of this school year is an emphasis on student academic excellence, particularly as it relates to improving the number of students achieving the standard of excellence on provincial tests. Our core goal as a school division is to prepare our students, and create hope and opportunity for their futures. We believe that our focus on instructional leadership and improving instructional practice will help us move in the direction of improving student academic results. Much of our professional development is focused in these areas.

Another top priority is the development of an updated utilization plan for our Okotoks school facilities. Due to significant and sustained growth in Okotoks, we are facing space challenges in many our schools. While we are pleased that the Alberta Government has announced a new K-9 school for FSD in Okotoks, it is in the very early planning stages. In the meantime, we are actively exploring a variety of solutions to more evenly distribute the student population and plan for anticipated growth in new subdivisions.

On December 8th, we held the first of two community consultation meetings. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend and provide their valuable feedback.

A second meeting is planned for Thursday, January 22 – 7:00 p.m. at École Okotoks Junior High School. All interested community members are invited to attend!

We also invite you to visit our website to submit your feedback on five proposed scenarios to address enrolment pressures in Okotoks. The survey will remain open until January 29.

On a personal basis, as I head into the second half of my first school year as Foothills’ Superintendent of Schools, I have been continually impressed by the dedication of our staff and their consistent efforts to improve student learning as a whole in FSD. I look forward to meeting and getting to know more of our staff throughout the division on an individual basis.

I am excited about the work that is happening in FSD. We have amazing people all pulling together for our students and we are optimistic about the future. In Foothills, we truly believe that each learner entrusted to our care has unique gifts and abilities, and it is our mission to find out what thee are… Explore them… Develop them… Celebrate them!