Horizon School Board briefs January 23

The following is a selection of briefs from the Jan. 23 Horizon School Board meeting.

Substitute Support Staff Policy

The alterations made to the policy make it so the Human Resources Department is required to keep a list of all substitute support staff and make it clear that support staff requiring a substitute are required to inform the principal or designate of the school who will arrange for the substitute, and that they might hire substitute support staff from the currently approved list. Additionally, it is required the supervisor of the substitute support staff is required to provide all necessary materials to them, and the substitute support staff is required to follow all regular duties and responsibilities of the staff member unless otherwise specified by the supervisor.

School Day Policy

Alteration to this policy clarified what criteria a principal will take into consideration when establishing a school day. The following criteria are provincial requirements, division, calendar, transportation, limitations, school, learning needs, well-being, overall learning environment, program, delivery, and school council feedback. Additionally, clarification was made that all calendars must be submitted to the superintendent or designation for approval.

Locally Developed Courses Policy

This policy was altered to clarify that the board motion needs to be passed to approve developed/ acquired courses and that senior high locally developed courses must be approved by Alberta Education. Additionally, the renewal process had been expanded after the end of a three-year term, the associate superintendent of learning services or designate must apply for approval and if approval fails, the course must be withdrawn at the end of term. Other clarifications were put in place stating that board approval must be obtained before the imple- mentation of any of these courses, and they should commence until third reading. Responsibilities for the associate superintendent of learning services, or their designate, were also outlined in the alteration to this policy, which states that they are responsible for coordinating lead development and acquisition of these courses, monitoring the courses, and ensuring that everything proceeds and develops along the timeline with the provincial policy.

Planning for Instruction

Alterations to this policy add that designed learning activities in planning should reflect the program of studies. Long-range plans need to be completed and filed with the principal by the end of the second week of September for year-long courses and courses in the first semester, and in February for courses in the second semester. Another alteration required that the course outline should be available for students and parents at the start of the course, and that teachers should supply a plumbing document upon the principal’s request.

Religion and Human Sexuality

This policy was adjusted to support the parent’s right to withdraw their children from courses that deal with subject matter regarding religion, patriotic instructions, or matters that deal with human sexuality. A new guideline regarding the Lord’s Prayer as part of the opening day was directed to be dealt with under policy at HNA. A new regulation was added that permits persons other than teachers to provide religious instructions with approval from the principal. Parents do not need to be notified when there is an incidental reference to religion, religious themes, or human sexuality as part of studies or in any materials. Physical education and wellness were added to the courses that require notification. When parents provide a written request to withdraw their child from these activities, the child is permitted to either leave the classroom where these activities are taking part, or remain within the classroom without taking part in these activities depending on the parents’ preferences. The final alteration was adjusting some of the wording on the forms that the parents would fill out to withdraw their child. Primarily changing ‘of study’ to ‘of study or educational program’.

Alternative Programs

This policy was altered to include a definition which clarifies an alternative program as one that emphasizes a particular language, culture or religion, subject matter, or uses a particular teaching philosophy. Within the guidelines of this policy, additional alterations were that the board should consider the level of demand, student achievement, impact on the final result, or impact on human resources when creating or closing alternative programs. Within the regulation of this policy, clarifications were made that alternate programs must comply with the Education Act, provincial regulations, and board policy. Proposals for an alternative program should be in line with Alberta Education’s Alternative Program Handbook, and these programs may originate with parents, school, division, staff, or from community groups, and that the proposed program may be written by these groups. Alternative programs that are submitted by parents and community groups must be submitted to the superintendent at least one year before the implementation, and the superintendent may request additional information prior to considering the implementation of this proposal.

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times