Living Sky School Division's Strategic Plan was passed last night with the majority of support, although some board trustees were concerned about not having sufficient funding to support the long-range initiative.
The strategic plan provides direction for the division as it starts to plan for its new budget. Some of the key points in the new plan include ensuring the division works towards its goal to increase graduation rates.
After a lengthy discussion, the board voted in favour of the three-year plan, although trustees Garth Link and Ron Kowalchuk didn't support it.
Following the meeting, Director of Education Brenda Vickers wasn't surprised to see there would be some objectors.
"I think people look at it through different lenses," she said. "There is really no right or wrong. They voted in accordance with what they really believed, and that's good."
Vickers added the division had received feedback on the proposed plan from many stakeholders in a consultation process last year.
The proposed plan has also been vetted by senior administration and was presented to School Community Councils.
Trustee Link was vocal during the meeting about his concerns of reduced provincial funding, based on a new report from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation that it was concerned the next provincial budget would be another austerity budget similar to last year, and would impact education funding. The new provincial budget is expected to be released in the spring.
"I'm not opposed to the Strategic Plan, but you better have some money to back it up," Link said.
He added the division cut many jobs last year related to reduced funding, so the new plan needs to be realistic.
Vickers said the Strategic Plan is not set in stone.
"I think, as was mentioned, it's a living document and it gives us direction," she said. "Most of what we are trying to do is aligned with the provincial plan, but Garth's (Link) point is well taken - that to move anything forward in a meaningful way you have to have resources to support it - human resources, financial resources to purchase programs."
"So we will let the plan guide us, and we will hope that the [provincial] budget is one that we can work with," she added.
Vickers said the school division did a lot of work to reduce its budget last year and is "open to looking for efficiencies, but it also has a service to provide.”
"We have to serve our kids in the best way we can," she said. "We also have a business end to run in the best way we can. So there comes a time when you have to have the right funding in place to do that well."
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