The second Abbotsford school board meeting of the year continued along the path of annual reports on Tuesday (Oct. 4).
Representatives from the communications and human resources department gave updates to the board on exciting programs and projects currently in the works.
Kayla Stuckart, manager of communications, explained a 12-year film project they’ve taken on that will track one group of students from Grade 1 to graduation. The first round of filming has taken place and the short film was shown at the meeting.
In it, the Grade 1 students talk about what they love about school (art, field trips, friends, math) and what they want to be when they grow up (artists, a ballerina, a teacher). Trustees all laughed along as the kids hammed it up from time to time.
When one student is asked what he’s enjoyed doing at school so far, he responds that he “made a chicken.”
When his classmates give him a funny look, he adds “with paints!” and the corresponding painting is shown on the screen.
Stuckart says staff is looking forward to tracking the children as they grow, seeing what works for them through the years, and gaining insight from their answers. The students’ participation has all been approved by their parents, and the district is already tracking the students over two schools.
Michele Radomski, associate superintendent in human resources said in her annual report that Abbotsford teachers are within the national average for sick days, at 12.7 per employee. The national average is 12.8.
There are a number of programs that the district has undertaken over the last year, including adding a module of Indigenous learning to all new-employee “onboarding,” or training and a new Indigenous Support Workers Mentorship program.
There is also a new peer recognition in the district which will be highlighted later this year with a recognition celebration, she added. They received 36 nominations for this first year.
They’ve also rolled out a Teacher Leadership Academy, which is a two-year program that helps teachers learn the skills to move into leadership positions within the district.
One of the pillars in the district’s strategic plan is to have a progressive workforce, with goals of increasing workforce capacity and engagement, enhancing leadership excellence, and enhancing the health and safety of employees.
Radomski touched on different ways the human resources are working on meeting their goals. She also highlighted the importance of being an attractive employer.
There are one million unfilled positions across the country in all sector, she said, citing Statistics Canada. That’s double what the numbers were pre-pandemic.
Further, she said, 10 per cent of employees are eligible to retire in the next three years.
The shortages at the district are bus drivers, crossing guards, youth care workers, education assistants and specialty teachers.
“It’s a long list,” Radomski said. “More broadly, the labour shortage is an opportunity to think about how we live and how we work.”
The Oct. 4 meeting was the last general meeting before the new board is elected in. Their inauguration meeting will be held on Nov. 15, with a regular board meeting following on Nov. 22.