June 27, 2019
Dear Parents / Guardians,
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending all of the graduation ceremonies throughout our Sea to Sky School District. Looking at the faces of our students, I was reminded of our kindergarten students on their first day of school. The feelings are similar: excitement, pride, and maybe a touch of uncertainty. Whether it is a child’s first day of school, or last walk across the stage, or any one of the days in between, it is truly a privilege to be part of their journey.
Together with you and our staff supporting 16 schools and more than 5,000 students, we have had an eventful year and continued to accomplish great things. We started the year by welcoming 450 new kindergarten students, an additional 133 students to our overall population, and a newly elected Board of Education.
Our ambitious improvement efforts have resulted in our graduation rates for all students, students of Indigenous ancestry, and students with special needs rising consistently over the past eight years and continuing to rank among the highest in the province. Our grade-to-grade transition rates have improved similarly, and our suspension rates have dropped sharply. More of our students are staying in school, engaging with their learning, and graduating with much improved life chances.
As we celebrated these successes this year, it was equally important to pause and ask ourselves, “What else do we know?” and “How can we provide further opportunities to enhance student learning in our district?” To that end, this spring, we reached out to parents, students, staff, First Nation communities, the public, and education experts for feedback to inform a refresh process for our School District’s Education Plan: Pathways to Learning. We then gathered fifty-five stakeholders over three full days to synthesize all of the information into a meaningful plan. In September, we will launch our newly revised Pathways to Learning through your school PAC and community meetings and look forward to sharing with you our ongoing collective determination to respond to the changing needs of our students.
Similarly, at the provincial level, the BC Ministry of Education has revised the K to 12 curriculum to prepare students for future success. Intended to be learner-centred and focused on core competency development, it encourages flexible approaches to learning and learning environments which honour the diverse ways in which students demonstrate what they know, do, and understand. The new curriculum was launched in the 2016/2017 school year and has been fully implemented from kindergarten through to grade 10. BC’s Graduation Program is the final phase of this redesign, with the new grade 11 and grade 12 curriculum coming into effect next school year. With many new developments, I encourage you to stay connected, attend parent sessions at your school, and reach out to your school principal with any questions.
We have also been revising the Board Policy Manual to ensure each policy is relevant and up-to-date. Our website is updated as the policies are reviewed and approved by the Board. This process will continue into next year. Of particular note for families is that we endeavoured to make our policy on how to navigate concerns within the district more user friendly. You can find this information in Policy 301, as well as in the accompanying flowchart.
This spring, our district engaged in Collective Agreement bargaining with both the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 779 and in local bargaining with the Sea to Sky Teachers’ Association (SSTA). We are pleased to let you know that we have successfully negotiated and ratified both the CUPE and the local SSTA agreements. The term of the new CUPE Collective Agreement is July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022. The new local language with the SSTA will be activated upon final ratification of a new Collective Agreement at the provincial level between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).
As we are all aware, the Sea to Sky corridor has been experiencing substantial population growth for school-aged children and we continue to be proactive with regards to our facilities planning. We engage with a professional demographic team to assess data-informed enrolment trends and the impact of current catchment boundaries. We work closely with school sites to design for the efficient and effective use of school spaces. We are currently placing additional portables at two school sites and completing several space-related renovations. We update our Capital Plan for the Ministry of Education annually. Next school year, we will also be engaging many of you living in Squamish in a catchment area review process as part of our plan to stay ahead of the demand and successfully meet the needs of our communities.
Families, staff, community members, and many others continue to support our students along their path. Inspiring curiosity, fostering intellect, and helping students feel safe and connected; everyone has an important role. As we close out the 2018/2019 school year, I want to thank all of you for an incredible year. I also wish to thank each of our graduates for their contributions to our schools and communities over the years and wish them well as they embark on their next adventure.
I hope you have the opportunity over the next couple of months to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. Enjoy a safe and lovely summer!