Governance is Crucial to Trusteeship: It demands authentic representation and community voice.

Trustees are the governors of the district. As such, they guide and lead the organization via policy development. Additionally, trustees are charged with budget oversight that includes labor negotiations with respective staff unions, appointment of, and contract negotiations with the Superintendent, and advocate on matters that either directly or indirectly affect student outcomes. Additionally, and as a Catholic Education system, we perform duties through a Catholic lens.

Governance is complex. Done right it provides high-level and skilled oversight and leadership to an organization. It requires that we engage in balanced decision making that ensures fiscal prudence; seeks innovative solutions and applies best practices; brings voice to stakeholders and electorate; abides by legislation; maintains a respectful but professional distance from administration all while imparting the teachings of Christ’s unconditional love within our students and staff.

It is important to understand that boards are to embark on high functioning governance. In the words of my graduate studies business prof, corporate boards tend to be high functioning whereas public boards tend not to be. The nuance difference is the level of education and experience one brings to the table. Desire to run is not sufficient, particularly given that we oversee a half a billion-dollar budget. One must ask how they will contribute at a sophisticated level. I have both in-depth education and experience, particularly in relation to governance, management, policy, financial oversight, advocacy and other related functions.

Education

  • Masters of Public Health (2016-2018), University of Waterloo
  • Bachelor of Science Degree, University of Alberta
  • Bachelor of Education Diploma, University of Alberta
  • Psychology, Open Studies
  • Financial Literacy Certification, Rotmans School of Business, University of Toronto

For a listing of the numerous Boards and committees that I have sat on please press on the link Education & Experience in the menu bar at the top of this page.

 

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What are a few of our greatest challenges in moving forward?

Classroom composition had change tremendously due to such things as an influx of refugees, a move to inclusive education, an increase in the number of English Language Learners etc. Exacerbating this change is decreased funding. We need a multidisciplinary approach to support students. This demands implementation of best practices that support the emotional and physical health of students and staff, training opportunities for staff, collaboration with partners, provisions for wrap around services and funding efficiencies that ensure reasonable class sizes and supports for teachers.

Funding affects every aspect of Education. We need to be diligent in how we earmark public dollars. As per recommendations by Canada treasury, boards need to weigh cost benefits, and efficiencies of programs and be bold enough to make changes. Fiscal prudence is important to me. As many of you know, I had made requests to re-negotiate the superintendents contract. Not as a function of performance but as a function of due diligence where costs are justified, and aligned to job title. As I felt the salary was not in-line with the job description, I voted against the contract.

Infrastructure continues to present challenges. It is critical that we continue to relay the dire need for new school constructions that keep pace with growth. Additionally, we need to ensure that adequate funding is available for maintenance and renewal. I am proud that I was able to lobby both the board and the government effectively to ensure that Ward 76 has gotten the schools it required. Additionally, to ensure that funding for maintenance is appropriate to preserve Alberta’s infrastructure investments, I lobbied to have the ASBA to pass a resolution noting that renewal funding sit at 2%. This is an industry standard that will support efforts to see current shortfalls increased.

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Family Fun Day-Hosted by Marilyn Bergstra & Nathan Ip

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Your Tax Dollars and the Importance Behind Results Based Management and Accountability Frameworks for School Jurisdictions.

With growing deficits, tighter budgets and greater student need within the classroom, it is imperative that every dollar be accounted for and that impact assessments are performed in relation to student outcomes.

Alberta schools have provided great leadership in terms of educational reform. This is to be commended, as thinking outside the box offers opportunity to develop cutting edge programs that lead to greater student success. One such example is, the “Coaching” model at Edmonton Catholic. This comprehensive program has resulted in the highest graduation rates for Indigenous students anywhere in the province. Innovative practices such as this must continue if we are to ensure the long term success of students and of the economy.

Not surprising though, is the tremendous costs that are associated with any new design or program. Additionally, new programs are rarely evaluated for effectiveness and their respective results often go unchallenged or unknown. Given this reality,  new initiatives must be comprehensively assessed to determine if programs have met intended outcomes. This is essential to fiscal accountability. Hence, it is recommended that these types of  financial investments be assessed according to a set of three criteria that include:

  • an assessment of the program design (formative evaluation)
  • a review of the design implementation process (process evaluation)
  • achievement of short, medium and long term goals and objectives (outcomes evaluation)

This application would set a new standard and new direction related to school based approaches, provisions, and review of, program designs.  As such,  the analysis of formative, process, and outcome evaluations must become the standard practice for boards across the province. This will facilitate, among other things, evaluations that harness the statistical power of quantitative data in addition to important qualitative analysis and information,  delivering a standardized practice to guide and assess program development, implementation, outcomes, and cost effectiveness/efficiencies across Alberta schools.

As stated by the Treasury Board Secretariat with the Government of Canada, “Evaluation is the systematic collection and analysis of information on the performance of a policy, program or initiative to make judgements about relevance, progress or success and cost effectiveness, and/or to inform future programming decisions about design and implementation” (Canada, 2017)

The use of results based analysis is able to harnesses the power of data that is statistically grounded. Thus, it is an effective tool in assessing the power, strength and cost effectiveness associated with any new initiative. It provides the needed assurance that costly programs are deemed effective in order to  justify continued support. The evaluative process works to identify areas of weakness and serves to guide decisions about future programming. This is critical to ensure that tax dollars have been efficiently and effectively assigned and to assure that student results are maximized.

For this reason, I will be encouraging the adoption of this instrument for use by Edmonton Catholic Schools. As an industry standard for all publicly funded government institution, application of this commonly used tool will serve to make the district more fiscally accountable, but so too will it provide real time research information on the effectiveness of program designs, implementations and outcomes… all of which serve students and tax payers.

Results Based Assessments–Sample– Mandatory Vaccinations to Attend Public Schools in Alberta

 

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The Importance of Child Vaccinations and Keeping Students Safe: We Can’t Change the Minds of the 2% But We Can Save Lives.

I presented a Motion  to lobby government to implement mandatory vaccinations for all students attending publicly funded school (less those needing medical exemptions). Relevant vaccinations included the following: measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria and polio.

Motion Passed

If we don’t take action, things will get worse before they get better…

A long read but an important matter facing the majority of school students around the globe. In the link below you will find summary information related to vaccinations in addition to a global scan of current policies aimed at improving vaccination rates in populations.

Policy Analysis Increasing Child Vaccination Rates

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Savvy Student Consumers!!

Public Board Motion:

Re:         Financial Literacy Programming for School Curriculum

Motion: Passed

That the Board of Trustees lobbies government to develop financial literacy programming for implementation into the school curriculum.

Walmart advertisement: ‘the average family saves $1200 a year shopping at Walmart. What will you buy with the money you have saved?’

 Noted on receipts and verbally shared by salesperson at the time of purchase: ‘you saved $50 on your purchase today’”

Students today are bombarded by complex social media campaigns and commentary that affect perceptions and habits related to money management. Sophisticated advertisements targeting youth consistently reinforce that individuals deserve and need to have the latest and greatest gadgets, games, clothes, etc.  Messaging further stresses a right to immediate gratification in terms of collecting material possessions along with experiences; affordability is not a consideration. As a result, ‘buy now, pay later’ attitudes are increasingly becoming the norm among younger generations. Further, access to quick and easy credit means that attitudes and desires are easily translated into behavior.

Knowing the significant purchasing power of youth, media will continue to bombard students in sophisticated, intentional ways that promote the pervasive ideology associated with modern day consumerism, ultimately supporting attitudes that lead to unnecessary, irresponsible spending practices. The most logical resource/avenue available to combat the power of theses influences and corresponding behaviors is curriculum that equips students with financial skills to empower them to become savvy, critical, analytical and self-constrained consumers. Students need to understand fully the implications of carefree spending, critique and question subtleties in messaging that influence one’s spending habits, budget appropriately, and understand concepts such as affordability.   They need to understand consequences associated with credit/debt acquisition and the importance of long term financial planning.

The economic and psychosocial impact of poor financial management, at both the individual and population level, is tremendous. We cannot afford (pardon the pun) to leave another generation of youth graduate without a sound grounding in financial literacy given the life-long implications of poor financial decision making. We must successfully impart within all students the importance that money management will play in their lives. Assertions made by Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz are indeed correct; financial literacy must be incorporated into the new curriculum. It is a modern-day solution to a profound and prolific modern-day challenges.

Additional cross -provincial support:

Ontario to Adopt Financial Literacy Curriculum

Importance of Financial Literacy

 

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