Archive: May, 2011
The board approved our one year contribution to the District Capital Plan this evening. I was pleased to see our board make investing in infrastructure renewal and deferred maintenance in our existing schools a top priority. As we heard at our last moratorium committee on deferred maintenance and infrastructure deficit, our district is facing a $243 Million dollar deficit in our existing schools – asbestus abatement, renewals, and modernizations are all included. If you look at our capital plan list you’ll see our board prioritizing our asks.
There are no guarantees in this provincial climate that if we “ask we shall receive” but I think this capital plan makes an important statement that we as a district need to invest in the preventative maintenance that can keep our schools in lasting shape for years to come.
Many excellent comments were made during debate including the overall sustainability of our capital strategy. Currently as the city has sprawled, the district has continued to build more and more schools in the outlying areas. This strategy is not only expensive (as we have to build more and more schools) but also it has led to continued pressures to close more schools in the core to move staff and resources to the outlying areas.
The expectation that every new neighbourhood gets a school is very tough to manage. What’s more, we are in a tough position of having to manage expectations with residents who might have been told by a realtor or a developer that a new school is on the way! The reordering of the list passed last night should send a clear message from our board that the students who are currently studying in our buildings are our priority and let’s focus on fixing the buildings we already own.
This “build and close, build and close” negative feedback loop is unsustainable for schools, and we are missing out on huge opportunities for fiscal and environmental sustainability by supporting a more compact, livable city with mixed uses of housing in every neighbourhood. The challenges of growth and aging infrastructure are not unique to Edmonton Public Schools. CivicCamp Calgary is starting to talk about the financial sustainability of Calgary. Edmonton is starting to explore the true costs of sprawl with a report that is on the Council Executive Committee agenda for today.
Everything is connected.
Here is my rough attempt at reproducing non-verbatim the ammendment that passed this evening:
“That the District Three-Year Capital Plan 2012-2015 be amended to prioritize infrastructure
adding language that will identify the urgent need for funding to maintain and upgrade our aging
schools in mature neighbourhoods.”
Here is a link to view the full capital project list and plan:
If we can’t safely get our kids and families to school, we can’t teach them.
At the Wednesday April 26th, 2011 Board Meeting my board colleagues voted unanimously to support the advocacy initiatives of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and the Edmonton Catholic School Board to call for clear and safe speed limits in Edmonton Neighbourhoods.
I was not present at this meeting as I was at the Alberta Library Conference (I am also a trustee with the Edmonton Public Library and this conference is a major professional development opportunity and a chance to do some of my own homework on school library initiatives.) As an advocate for safe, healthy, and active transportation, I was thrilled to see my colleagues add their voices to the chorus of citizens pushing for safer neighbourhoods.
To learn more about the traffic safety initiatives from the EFCL, visit: http://www.efcl.org/NEWS/tabid/145/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/121/EFCL-Endorses-Traffic-Safety-Initiatives.aspx
Safe speed limits do not only improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and children at play, but they also make our roads safer for other drivers, especially in uncertain conditions. Many of our neighbourhood roads were not built for the same speeds as our collectors!
With the gorgeous spring weather and the melt (finally!) of the snow, there has been a big bump in auto accidents. A few weeks ago my fiancee was struck by a truck in a pedestrian crosswalk on 101st and Whyte Ave. Her story is here and in her words she luckily sustained no life-threatening injuries. Most disturbing was the ER Nurse who told me that she was the 7th pedestrian who had been hit that day and it was only 3:00 in the afternoon!
Traffic calming measures and safe speed limits have been a major push from the community leagues in our ward. While the LRT has succeed in getting hundreds of vehicles off of the road, traffic has inadvertently run-off via other channels not intended to receive such a high volume of traffic. There are a few cases where there has been more pressure such as 106th Street between 51st and 76th and 76th Ave in Belgravia.
If you would like to learn more about how you can integrate safe and healthy transportation for the students of your school, check out SHAPE: http://www.shapeab.com/Links.asp They have an excellent collection of resources that I have condensed and shared here:
Shape Alberta Links
Promotional products that with support Walk to School programs are available for purchase at this unique Canadian web store. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School programs.
Active Edmonton is an exciting new initiative promoting physical activity to all Edmonton residents.
Active Kids Edmonton encourages children and youth to be more active! It provides great ideas to get active in Edmonton.
The Alberta Be Fit for Life Network is comprised of nine regional centres focuses on providing services, programs and resources to promote the health benefits of active living and physical activity. Schools, communities and workplaces are welcome to access these services
The Alberta Block Parent Association Website
The Alberta Centre for Active living works with practitioners, organizations, and communities to improve the health and quality of life of Albertans through physical activity.
The ACHSC is a network of individuals commited to promoting and fostering healthy school communities through comprehensive school healthy approaches
A Student Pedometer Resource
The Daily Physical Activity Initiative Website
Walk the talk, Alberta Transportation’s child safety program, provides a variety of resources including curriculm booklets, brochures, stickers, pencils, etc. that promote pedestrian, bus, and bicycle safety. The manuals are suited to classroom teaching or school use. The Child Traffic Safety Resource guide for Educators, Parents and Community is a curriculm guide that is recommended by Alberta Education
The Alberta Motor Association funds and coordinates the AMA School Safety Patrols. Each year approximately 17 000 Grade 5 and 6 students patrol school crosswalks to keep their fellow students safe while crossing the street
The Canadian Active & Safe Routes to School Partnership is a national group working to increase the number of school-aged children who travel to school using active, sustainable and safe modes of transportation.
The Canadian Cycling Association’s CAN-BIKE program is a series of courses on all aspects of cycling safely and enjoyably on the road. The orientation is toward recreational and utilitarian use of the bicycle rather than toward competition. Courses for all cyclists of all ages. There are now more cyclists than ever before in Canada and the fastest growing segments of the cycling community are teens and adults. More than 45% of the Canadian population rides bicycles. That includes 90% of 5-to-14 year olds. 2/3 of adults, more than 14 million, ride a bicycle. Teenagers and adults seek fitness, enjoyment and adventure, as well as low cost means of transportation
Carbonbusters is a dynamic, innovative company with international reach whose goal is to reduce the ecological and carbon footprint of institutional buildings through self-funding energry effieciency and enviromental education programs
In 2009, the Alberta Centre for Active Living partnered with SHAPE to conductan environmental scan of active transportation programs in Alberta schools. This was done through an electronic survey and focus groups. This report highlights some of the key findings and provides recommendations.
The Ever Active Schools (EAS) program, in partnership with Alberta School communities, contributes to the development of children and youth by fostering social and physical enviroments that support healthy active lifestyles. This membership-paid programs is supported by the Health Physical Education of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. EAS recognizes and rewards schools that focus on physical activity and well being in their school communities. EAS also provides resources to critically reflect and measure current practices, policies and enviroments.
Head injuries are the #1 cause of serious injury and death to kids on wheels. This year we have chosen “Got Wheels? Get a Helmet!” as our theme for Safe Kids Week 2010. While Canada has come a long way in the development and implementation of helmet standards, practices and laws, there is still a lot more that can be done to keep kids safe. To do your part in promoting helmet use, register for Safe Kids Week 2010 today !
Moving and Choosing (Southeastern Alberta) is a community based coalition promoting healthy growth and development and the prevention of child and adolescent obesity. Key objectives target building healthy school environments and improving access to high quality curriculum education in nutrition and physical activity. Community partnerships link schools and families to programs which promote active living and increase food security.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Board Will Seek Public Input Regarding Proposed New School Year Calendar for 2012-13
At last night’s Board meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to get public input regarding a proposed change in the school year calendar year that could see students starting school the Monday before Labour Day with an additional break in November.
Many members of the Board expressed they had been hearing from constituents that were both in favour and against the idea including some who proposed new ideas such as extending the spring break. “We’re open to new ideas and this decision allows us to explore our options that would best serve students and their families,” said Dave Colburn, Chair of the Board of Trustees. It is expected that a recommendation summarizing public input will go to the Board by fall of 2011 when a decision will be made about the 2012-13 school year calendar.
The Board also approved an important motion to join the advocacy efforts of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and Edmonton Catholic School Board to advocate for lower speed limits in residential areas. “Lowering speed limits will create a safer environment for not just our children but the community.” said Colburn.
The Board also reviewed preliminary budget for 2011-12 which shows a proposed balanced budget despite a $14 million dollar reduction in revenues. The preliminary budget focuses on minimizing impacts on students by having the bulk of the reductions achieved through efficiencies and budget reductions in central services. The preliminary budget will now go to schools and central services who will plan for the year ahead and Administration will bring forward the roll-up of proposed expenditure/staffing plans to the Board in May 2011. Further information about these agenda items are posted on the Board of Trustees section of Edmonton Public Schools’ website (www.epsb.ca).