Lewis Hill has quickly figured out his role as the new secretary-treasurer for Clearview School Division since he started in June.
“I have really enjoyed working with the staff at the central office; they have been wonderful help to me,” said Hill who is working in his first position with the public school system from kindergarten to Grade 12, although most of his career has served with organizations with an educational focus.
“Financially our division is in a good position,” said Hill.
“Conservative financial management from previous and current administrations and boards has enabled the division to retain some funds in reserve for emergency situations.”
With his experiences and skills he has a passion to help Clearview provide the best-quality education for local students despite challenges of limited funding resources and declining enrolment and smaller schools.
“I want to see the children of today become the leaders of our tomorrow,” said Hill who served as vice-president of finance and operations at Prairie Bible Institute, a private, not-for-profit, higher educational institution in Three Hills, Alberta for the past five years.
“We have very capable staff throughout the division and the board of trustees is also great to work with.”
He said the board and administration need to continue on the path of conservative fiscal management.
“We need to continue to provide quality education to our students with the limited financial resources our rural school division has available to us,” said Hill.
Serving students to the highest level is a top priority for him.
“Quality education provided by quality teachers and staff in quality facilities is important to me,” said Hill.
“Additionally, it is amazing how many of our leaders come from rural locations.”
“We, as rural communities, need to provide reasons for our children to want to live in rural Alberta.”
“Positively impacting the children of our communities will go a long way to sustaining rural Alberta.”
However as a school division that covers a large area with several small schools and low student enrolment, Clearview faces some operational challenges, he said.
“People moving from rural communities to the urban centres is putting a strain on resources to provide a quality education to fewer students,” said Hill.
“Our division receives some additional funds to assist in retaining the quality teachers and staff at our smaller schools.”
“As I stated earlier, the division has limited resources while the board is committed to the small schools in our division.”
At the school level, he sees financial challenges.
“Some schools, due to student populations or government funding rates, are able to provide a greater range of services to their students than other schools and the challenge is to make sure every student has quality resources available to them,” said Hill.
Quality facilities are another area of focus.
“Our division’s maintenance and custodial staff work hard to maintain the schools and grounds but a lot of our schools are older.”
“The older facilities are the more expensive to operate and it takes years to get approved for renovations from the province.
“Then we have the issue of geographic distance between the central office and the school and some schools are over an hour away from Stettler making them more challenging to serve.”
With well-rounded experience in finance and operations, and a CMA (Certified Management Accounting) designation, Hill who has worked in private and not-for-profit organizations with participating in, and more recently, overseeing finance, information technology, maintenance and operations, office services, food services, mail services, and retail sales.
Married for 26 years, he and his wife Dawn have three adult children and were also foster parents in British Columbia to children with cerebral palsy for 15 years.
Over the years, Hill has volunteered with many church and community groups, serving children up to 12 years old.
“My wife and I will be looking for a church to attend in the fall,” said Hill.
“We have a variety of ideas where we are thinking of getting involved in the community over the next few months.”
“But we are also very aware we can get too involved in the community and lose the joy of being part of the community.”