Teachers and school boards deliver improvement plans

Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

The Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF) created during the recent round of central table bargaining has delivered its first batch of approved proposals.

To date, four school jurisdictions have had CIF proposals approved by Alberta Education, with Sturgeon Public being the first.

“I feel really encouraged that [our committee members] were able to work collaboratively and productively together in order to come up with a proposal in a timely manner,” said Corey Conroy, president of Sturgeon Local No. 27.

The other jurisdictions to receive approval are Rocky View, Calgary Catholic and Medicine Hat Public.

The $75 million CIF program is part of a new central table agreement reached in May between the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Teachers Employer Bargaining Association. The program involves the formation of local CIF committees — comprised equally of teachers and school board representatives — to decide how to spend their portion of the per-pupil funding.

After the central table agreement was reached in May, the school division and ATA local in Sturgeon had a CIF committee formed within six days. They set up a two-day survey that gathered input from 70 per cent of division teachers, then created a seven-point plan centred primarily on mental health, wellness and literacy.

“We really focused on what mattered and that was finding ways to improve the classroom experience overall,” Conroy said.

CIF committees have until Dec. 15 to submit their proposals. Education Minister David Eggen said he’s received a handful so far and he’s been impressed.

“I am very excited to see all the innovative proposals coming forward and I’m sure there are many more to come,” he said.

On June 20, Eggen teamed up with Sturgeon officials and Association president Mark Ramsankar to promote the funding program at one of the division’s schools — Sturgeon Heights in St. Albert.

 PHOTO BY CORY HARE

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Mark Ramsankar speaks at Sturgeon Heights School in St. Albert on June 20. The event publicized the Classroom Improvement Fund created during central table bargaining. Joining Ramsankar on stage were St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud, school principal Jonathan Konrad and Education Minister David Eggen. Also involved in the announcement were associate superintendent Thomas Holmes and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne.

Sturgeon Public will receive $676,000 in CIF funding. This would translate to six FTE teachers, but rather than spread this number of teachers across 16 schools, which committee members felt would have minimal impact, Sturgeon’s committee created a plan aimed at supporting the entire division.

The plan will enable teachers to take release time for a variety of pursuits such as collaboration, professional development, training and creating individualized program plans.

The division will also allocate a portion of its CIF money to providing students with additional addiction counselling and to hiring a family support worker to help students and families connect to community supports. It will also work on initiatives to improve staff wellness.

It’s expected that students and staff alike will notice a discernible difference as a result of the plan’s various components, said associate superintendent Thomas Holmes.

  PHOTO BY CORY HARE
Thomas Holmes, associate superintendent of Sturgeon School Division, speaks about the CIF program created by a committee of teachers and division representatives.

“That’s going to be our true measure of whether or not this was effective,” he said.

Association president Mark Ramsankar said Sturgeon’s proposal is an example of an effective, collaborative relationship, which Sturgeon’s school board and ATA local have maintained for years.

“When you have a district that sincerely listens to teachers from the field, great things can happen,” he said.

AT A GLANCE

Other approved CIF proposals

 

Summary of CIF proposal

What is the aim of your CIF proposal?

Medicine Hat Public

 

 

- Information provided by local president Natalie Oliphant.

With the funding, we are able to provide FTE employment to assist teachers with embedded collaboration. We will also have a specialized EA to provide support to EAs and teachers. Also, a family liaison worker will have additional time added to their contract to provide support with families in crisis.

Our goal was to create a proposal that assists teachers with their workload by providing assistance in handling the diverse challenges in their classrooms.

Rocky View

 

 

 

 

 

- Information provided by local president Michelle Glavine.

- CIF funds will be distributed to each school based on a base amount of $20,000 per school and $72 per student enrolled as of June1, 2017.

- Schools will establish a committee consisting of the principal, one assistant principal and at least two teachers to determine how the money can best be used by their school.

- Criteria have been created and distributed that are focused on hiring additional teachers and/or support staff, providing more professional learning and purchasing materials or equipment.

We are hoping to achieve benefits for students in our classrooms, particularly in the intended area of inclusion. Because of the format we created, schools are able to address specific concerns in their own communities. We wanted to ensure that classroom teachers had a voice in this process.