During the Monday, March 22 Regular Meeting of Fort La Bosse School Division Board of Trustees, the board and Superintendent Barry Pitz discussed the proposed Bill 64 legislation.
These government documents, Bill 64 and the K- Gr. 12 Review (Better Education Starts Today) are on the FLBSD website for review.
Pitz has done his homework, studying the lengthy Bill 64 document and explained that he has met with the entire staff within FLB “to share what I could make of the bill at this point.” Meetings included school principals throughout the division and all other staff, even school support staff (maintenance, etc.).
The board plans to contact municipalities served by the FLB school division to invite them to meet and discuss this information. Students attend FLB from the RMs of Pipestone, Wallace-Woodworth and the Town of Virden. Pitz said “We’ll share the points of Bill 64 once we have a greater breakdown of that from the school boards association.”
Invitations will also be sent to the three MLAs representing areas within our school division to meet with the board to discuss the details of this new legislation.
Pitz said he wants to make the government aware of the unique situations within the division. “In accordance with bill 64, we will be forwarding a request to our MLAs and inviting them to a meeting to review our local issues … as well as our arrangement that we have with our partner at Canupawakpa.”
All three MLAs are members of Premier Pallister’s Conservative government. The Hon. Cliff Cullen, representing Spruce Woods riding (covering Oak Lake) is also the Minister of Education.
MLA Doyle Piwniuk represents Turtle Mountain, which includes the Reston School.
For Virden and Elkhorn schools the MLA for Riding Mountain is Greg Nesbit.
The FLB board is also looking to meet with representatives of the other two school divisions Southwest Horizon and Turtle Mountain School Divisions, part of the newly identified region, for initial discussions. This means board chairs, and division staff.
Out of the discussion at the Monday night meeting, the board stated they plan to make a presentation on the proposed legislation as part of the provincial government’s consultation process on Bill 64.
“We have a good school division that is running smoothly and we just want to share our views with government,” the superintendent said.
Elkhorn parents voiced concerns to Superintendent Pitz over students’ education, which he presented to the board. While the province is listed as Critical Red, since Nov. 12, schools have been in Orange, which meant students have to be able to distance within their classes, so some classes in the older grades had to be split in half with students attending every other day and learning remotely, at home on the other days.
“Today I did receive multiple emails from our concerned parents from our Elkhorn School community.” He said that between six and 10 parents had contacted the school division asking that students return to fulltime school attendance.
“Even though they are very pleased with what the school division has done in terms of online learning, blended learning … in terms of pandemic safety,” the parents expressed concern over learning for Gr. 9 – 12 students. “It’s not the same,” said Pitz to the board. “They feel their grades could be better, better learning occurs in classroom. There are concerns over anxiety and depression related to screen time. They would like to see their kids in class as soon as possible.”
Schools must abide by Provincial health mandates. The board planned to discuss the Elkhorn request. Pitz said he would be in communication with Principal Lance Barrate regarding this matter and respond to the parents.