Mid-November Update: school reviews, school council training, and more

Thus affirmed– live on the first EPSB webcast!

I was afirmed as a new Trustee at our November 2nd board meeting. Thank you for the emails of support. I look forward to serving the district. On of the most exciting aspects of the meeting was that it was the first webcast meeting of the Edmonton Public School Board. City Council regularly shares their meetings online, but this was a first for Edmonton Public. I look forward to exploring further measures on how we can make our board more transparent, inclusive and better communicate with the public.

You will be able to tune-in online on November 16th and hear some interesting discussion items including a motion to create a special needs task force and a motion for our board to reaffirm our committment to the discussions with city council and the province regarding school space and school closures. After the Mayor and many city councillors committed to action during the election, I look forward to getting the ball rolling!

Newsletter list grows

Thank you to those of you who have signed up for the Ward F newsletter. This will be used infrequently on a monthly basis for ward related and school related news. If you have not done so already, click here to sign up.

Meeting of School Council Chairs of Ward F

In early December I will be hosting a meeting of the school council chairs the date and time of this meeting will be sent out over my Ward F newsletter if you are interested in participating. I have been trying to get out to as many of the school council meetings as I can, and I look forward to setting up our first Ward F Ward Council/Town Hall meeting in the new year!

Your Feedback is Necessary

The province has put forward a new framework for public education and a new school act. These are the crucial documents steering the education system forward in our province.

Education Act Proposed Framework: http://engage.education.alberta.ca/uploads/1011/educationact-propose87321.pdf

If you haven’t read Inspiring Action, you can click here to get a .PDF copy: http://engage.education.alberta.ca/uploads/1006/20100621inspiringact86934.pdf

I look forward to your feedback and thoughts on the issue. Former Education Minister, David King, shared a blog with a few thoughts on the new framework that sparked some conversation.

What do you think is missing from the act? What would you like to see included?

School Reviews

November is an opportunity for the trustees to review our schools and decision units over the past year. I have participated in various school review meetings which brings together a group of 6-8 schools (including group of Principals, Vice Principals, School council members) for a discussion. An Assistant Superintendent is present to observe these interactions as well, and I’m not quite sure how I feel yet about their attendance (does their presence limit discussion or limit the frankness of staff and community contributions?) Nevertheless, I encouraged everyone to email me at michael.janz@epsb.ca if they had anything else they wanted to share.

The reviews have helped us learn about some of the unique challenges and opportunities at each of our schools. We have had a chance to review their achievement test scores, staff and student satisfaction surveys, and dig deeper into how we can better empower our schools to succeed in the future. We also had a chance to review some of the central decision making units in the superintendents area. For the 6 new trustees this was an opportunity to learn more about the inner machinations deep within the “Big Blue” — the affectionate term for 1 Kingsway, the EPSB Headquarters.

Questions could be quite specific about performance issues or could be quite general. One of the ice breakers I was interested in hearing was if the Principal had been to a community league function over the past year or not and if the school had a relationship with their neighbours. As a trustee who is passionate about community and libraries, I was also curious to hear if the School had a relationship with their local Edmonton Public Library branch. So far most schools have answered in the affirmative to both questions.

School Council Training

Wednesday evening I attended the school council training evening hosted by Edmonton public and the Alberta School Council Association. The ASCA helps empower school councils with advocacy and training to help empower school councils be more effective in their day to day work. They are primarily funded by the province and membership dues.

School Council: 1. A group of people who work together to advise the principal and the board respecting matters relating to the school. 2. A means for parents and community members to work together with the school to support and enhance student learning.  Alberta School Council Resource Manual, 2006


The session was presented by Lisa Dickner and her focus was empowering school council participants to give them purpose. She did a fantastic job in discussing how important increasing parental involvement in a child’s education is.

Increased parental involvement results in:

  • Higher student achievement
  • Better student attendance
  • Positive student attitudes and behaviors
  • Higher student graduation rates.

Questions I’m pondering:

  • How can the district help better empower parent councils?
  • How can the district better connect parent council volunteers with each other?
  • How can the district better engage parents in their children’s education?
  • How can we better connect the surrounding neighbourhoods to their local school and foster a strong relationship between the community league and the school council?
  • Should we establish a council of school councils throughout the whole district?

Upcoming in November:

  • More school reviews. More Central Unit reviews. They are open to the public and are listed on www.epsb.ca if you would like to attend
  • Attending school council and community league meetings
  • EPSB Trustee Retreat
  • Alberta School Boards’ Association fall conference