Clearview board, schools brace for provincial budget

With the viability of rural schools in the Clearview School Division under study, officials are waiting for word

With the viability of rural schools in the Clearview School Division under study, officials are waiting for word from Thursday’s provincial budget.

Clearview plans to begin “community consultation meetings” next Tuesday in Byemoor, one of the communities in jeopardy of losing its school.

“The provincial budget will impact our schools next year,” Clearview superintendent John Bailey said last Thursday as the board discussed the coming series of community meetings.

That could include steps to review and reconfigure grades in various schools.

“Until we have the provincial budget, we won’t know about how much money we can allocate for schools and that could change the landscape,” Bailey said.

“That will depend on the budget a lot,” said Ken Checkel, who chairs the board.

After the provincial budget is announced this Thursday afternoon, the board plans to discuss the impact on education at a special meeting this Monday at 2 p.m.

For each community session, the division intends to post information on the Clearview and related school’s websites.

By allowing for plenty of questions and discussion at the sessions, the division hopes to gather key information about each school for this school year and next year, Bailey said.

Community meetings are set for:

March 12 in Byemoor.

March 20 in Donalda.

April 3 in Castor.

April 4 in Coronation.

April 8 in Botha.

April 15 in Brownfield

April 30 in Big Valley.

May 1 in Stettler.

May 2 in Erskine.

May 13 in Stettler.

Board plan: A new three-year plan for the board is slated to be reviewed this summer, after an anticipated busy spring.

“We’ve got lots to deal with in the next few months,” Checkel said.

“These community meetings and related issues will take up much of our time.”

The board decided to revisit a board plan at its meeting in August.

“We have put a lot of time into a board plan and we want to continue having one,” Checkel said.

Stettler bus route: A letter from a concerned parent has led the division to study the feasibility of adding Stettler bus services in the Emmerson Acres area to help ensure safety for all students.

“We hear about this very concern a lot,” said trustee Patty Dittrick, who represents the Stettler area with Peter Simons.

“This is not just a concern for us, but also the Town of Stettler,” said Simon, who also serves a town councillor.

Over the next several months, the division plans to undergo a feasibility study for the suggested new route, which would include a fee for service.

School calendar: Trustees approved the school calendar for the 2013-14 year, which will continue to include student transition meetings.

“Student transition meetings have been positive,” Dittrick said.

Ward boundaries: Electoral wards for the local government elections this October will remain intact, even with minor population shifts in the last census in 2011.

“If we would have wanted to make some changes, we would have had to start the process before March 1,” Checkel said.

“With each ward required to have average population within plus or minus of the average, all wards come within that range,” he said.

Although with Stettler on the high end and Coronation on the low end, Checkel said the division would consider changes for the next local government election in October 2017.

Webcasting meetings: Steps have been taken to consider a plan to webcast school board meetings to make them more accessible to the community. The plan will be included in the budget for 2013-14, Bailey said.