Monday, May 30, 2011

The politics of unschooling: Raising independent trailblazers or lazy free-floaters?

Sarah Boesveld, National Post

Six-year-old Karina Ricci rolls out of bed around 7:30 a.m. She gets dressed, brushes her teeth and makes her bed before eating a leisurely breakfast in front of the TV. She gives her fledgling sunflower and snowpea plants a drink. Then she might play piano, or make something out of play dough. Perhaps she’ll help clean up the house or call a friend to hang out later in the day.
Anything goes, really.

Check out the full story here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Entry: More Appreciation

From Tammy C.

I would also like to thank everyone for making this luncheon work. Thank you first of all to all the ladies (and one gentleman) who brought in their favourite dishes - click the 'menu' for mouth watering details! A special thanks to Monika, Ramona, and Tracey for helping me with the setup and clean up, to Amber and Terry for working the lunch room so the regular lunch room ladies could eat the treats, and to Mr. Rochon for lugging the tables in and out of the staff room. By all accounts the luncheon was a big success and everyone was walking around this afternoon groaning about how full they were so that's a great sign! Also thank you to the Parent Association for their $ponsorship of some of the accoutrement.

Appreciation appreciated!

Staff enjoyed a spectacular spread, a fantastic feast, a magnificent meal, all prepared by Haultain parents for our Staff Appreciation Lunch. Our staffroom was transformed into a wonderful dining area, laid out with restaurant-style seating, centre pieces, and a buffet that was to die for. Starter appetizers, salads, main-course entrees, desserts and drinks filled the room! Needless to say, many a staff member left with a huge smile, a bulging belt line, and a go-box for tomorrow. Deep thanks go out to Tammy Campsall, Ramona Lind and Tracey Thompson for coordinating the effort, and to all of the parents who donated the delectable dishes. Thanks also to Terry Wyss and Amber Vergo, who braved the "elements" and covered in our lunchroom to allow our lunchroom staff to enjoy the meal as well.Thanks to everyone who made this special event possible. Your appreciation is DEEPLY appreciated!

A creative idea to increase funding?

Here's a quote extracted from a well written article from the U.S.:

"This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding."

Interested in reading more?

Click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Water update

May 25, 2011

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you are aware, Haultain Memorial experienced a water line break on Tuesday, May 17. Contracting crews, the CBE and The City have been working to repair the leak and had done so over the weekend. While preparing to test and flush the new lines, crews discovered a small crack and leak. Consequently, the pipe had to be replaced again. As a result, we are still without running drinking water.

Temporary, non-potable water service continues to be available and hose lines have been run from a nearby hydrant to provide running water for sinks and toilets. We continue to provide bottled water, however we are also asking that students continue to bring bottles from home.

Again, we apologise for this inconvenience and hope that all will be back to normal by early next week.


Trevor Barkley, Principal

School Budgets Tied To Oil Revenue

Further to Nick's post about the province building new schools is this article talking about the ups and downs of public school funding. Presently, the cycles of dynamic oil price dictate the education budget allocation from year to year. It seems crazy to me that we can't get budget certainty for education. I agree with and applaud ASCA's efforts to get the province to provide predictable funding structure:

"The “dichotomy” between an infrastructure splurge and programming cuts is part of Alberta’s boom and bust cycle and leaves school boards frantically slashing or hiring from year to year, said Jacquie Hansen, president of the Alberta School Board Association. The group has pressed the province for long-term, predictable funding agreements." - Sharon Armstrong, ATA

What do you think? Should the province be tying the price of a barrel of oil to school budgets?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stelmach unveils plans for 35 new Alberta schools

Premier Ed Stelmach announced today a total of 35 schools across Alberta will be built or modernized at an estimated cost of $550 million to cope with a student population expected to soar by about 100,000 new pupils before the end of the decade.

“This is part of a government investment to address growing student enrolments in some of the fastest growing communities in Alberta and responds to concerns we've been hearing for some time,” Stelmach said. “Our students are the future leaders of our province and deserve positive learning environments.”

Read more here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Interest high for proposed Arab language program

Parents interested in Arab bilingual studies proposed for Calgary public schools got their first look at it during an upbeat open house on Thursday.

More than 200 parents and children packed in to the cafeteria at Central Memorial high school for the event, launched by the Calgary Board of Education in response to an application brought forward by several Calgary parents, including Nayef Hattab.

Hattab, whose three daughters grew up in a CBE without an Arab bilingual program, said such studies would empower his grandson with an advantage over competitors in the future workforce, particularly overseas.

“As a parent, it’s really important for kids to have this opportunity. It will open up a lot of doors in the future,” said Hattab.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Union fears more cuts to Calgary teachers in wake of bus budget decision

By Matt McClure, Calgary Herald

The union that represents teachers at Calgary's public schools worries the board's rejection of a proposed 60 per cent hike in busing fees may result in even fewer teachers and bigger classes come September.

Jenny Regal, local president of the Alberta Teacher's Association, estimates the fee increase would have yielded an extra $2.6 million, savings that will now need to be found elsewhere as the Calgary Board of Education struggles to balance its budget.

"I fear increased job losses," Regal said. "Maybe there's another rock or two that administration can look under."

Read the full story here.

Higher bus fees rejected by school board

(From the CBC website)

Public school board trustees have rejected a large increase in school bus fees.

Calgary Board of Education administrators had recommended a 60 per cent fee hike to cover higher costs, but on Tuesday night the public school trustees voted down the proposal.

The recommendation would have cost parents of an elementary or junior high student $33.50 per month, up from $20 to ride the same bus this year. Senior high students wouldn't have seen any change to their monthly bus fees.

Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Provincial Achievement Tests

For parents who'd like to know more about the Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT's) that took place at Haultain this week, click here to view a great resource hub on the subject.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Water line break

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This notice is to inform you of a water line break, which occurred at the school today, approximately one hour before lunch.

Water began flowing from an underground line, directly beside the school, near the parking lot entrance doors. As this occurred outside, there was no direct danger to students. Staff directed students to use alternate doors, to avoid the affected area. The CBE and the City of Calgary were called to attend and assessed the situation. Currently (as of the 1:20 PM press time) water has been turned off at the school while crews further assess the situation. Typically, a line is run from a nearby hydrant to an intake valve at the school, to provide water for our sinks and washrooms, while potable water is provided by the City or the CBE. We will keep you updated as events unfold.

The safety and security of everyone at our school is our number one priority. At no time were any students or staff in any jeopardy. The school followed its safety procedures and students handled themselves admirably.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Meetings Last Night

Thank you to all who came out to the meetings last night. We were done quickly but a lot was accomplished:

- Mr. Barkley announced the tentative numbers and class sizes for next school year
- He also talked a bit about staffing, who will likely be staying and who will likely be going
- Unfortunately, we will not be illegible for an assistant principal next year, sadly Mr. Fero will be moving on
- Early dismissal and school hours for next year were presented as well as the tentative calendar
- We received a report about the Bow Habitat field trip from Mrs. Brewis - sounds like it was fantastic
- Susanne gave us a report about the ASCA AGM and how the voting went as well as the break out sessions she attended
- We approved expenditures for three different programs to be scheduled for next school year: Hoja, Quest Theatre, and Open Minds (which will be run by Mrs. Summers)
- Sara H., a parent at the school, brought an idea for consideration as well: Rock and Rings which sounds fabulous and the school admin is looking into it, we will be considering this program next meeting. Thanks Sara

We are still looking for input regarding residencies, if you have an idea for a program you'd like to see run at the school - please let me or Mr. Barkley know and we'll talk about it at our next meeting: June 2nd (last meeting of the year).

If you want more detail on any of the above, let me know via email or comments.

This Looks Fun...!

A school in the Peace Wapiti school division; Harry Balfour has an interesting club. Started by a volunteer parent Lacey de Kock, the Lego League convened once a week for eight weeks to practice for the First Lego League competition. Among other things, the kids built Lego chainsaws!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Education Act

The new Education Act, introduced to the legislature late last month, has been in the works for three years. It won't likely be passed in the spring session giving all of us time to pitch in on what we think of it. You can read the new act here, and become engaged by providing input on specific entries here. Some of the items making news already are:

- Boards will be able to close schools on their own initiative.
- Students can be suspended for bullying (digital or otherwise) even off of school property
- A new code of conduct for trustees, responsibilities for students and parents
- Much more autonomy for boards
- Boards will make their own transport policy, including walk limits for busing.
- Maximum drop out age will be 17.
- Language changes to the roles and responsibilities of school Councils; including a section stating that the Minister may, at his discretion, dissolve any Council without notice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Teacher's Rally at Eau Claire

Hundreds of people gathered at a rally in Calgary Saturday to support Alberta public education and its teachers.

Read more here.

Monday, May 9, 2011


We would like to discuss possible residencies at our next council meeting. If you have any ideas, please let us know. In the past, the PA has paid for residence programs (short term and long) for writers, musicians, fine artists, and dancers.

If you are interested at all in giving us some input into what program enhancements we will be paying for: send me an email, come to the meeting, or leave a comment.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

60% School Bus Fee Increase

Parents of students who are bussed to school will be paying a lot more in September if a recent CBE proposal is accepted. At current charges there would be an 8.8 million dollar shortfall. To cover the difference parents would be charged 60% more for the 2011/12 school year. Click here and here for more details and some reaction.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is Your Child Safe Online?

The internet and your kids have something in common: they both change... fast.

I know the subject of internet safety has been done to death but the reality is parents must remain constantly diligent about this incredibly dynamic medium. The safety checks you put in place a couple of years ago will no longer apply when your child gets older or they want to download a different networking application or they have their own computer. The best resource you have, of course, is your attention. If you're engaged in your child's activities its easy and simple to monitor activity and provide timely warnings. If the computer is in a common spot in the house, the whole family becomes the 'net nanny'.

From my perspective, the common mistakes our children make online are in the area of social networking. Its easy to spot the kids who are unaware of the size of their audience, they are the ones publishing their phone numbers, addresses, private information about their families, dubious self-portraits, etc. This information is not only reaching a large audience now but the indelible quality of the internet makes them time-traveling bombshells. Embarrassing pictures posted today will be seen 5 years from now by the background-checking HR manager who will be interviewing you.

Its not always necessary to share your name/phone/address either. The information kids are sharing may be subtly imbedded in their chat, if you want to scare yourself silly - read through this oft-circulated, cautionary tale (shades of urban legend).

According to Stats Can, as of 2009 (which is ancient in 'iYears'), 77% of Canadians access the internet at home. 42% have Facebook accounts, 47% use Twitter, 27% contribute to blogs, 45% using SMS. Looking at the trends, not surprisingly, all of these stats have increased significantly year over year. The point is that internet use is here to stay and will only increase over time. As in all things we teach our children, the guidelines we set as parents now will set the stage for how our children use the internet over a lifetime.

For some tips on what you can do; 'The Learning Team' monthly publication has an article entitled '10 Tips for Parents: Keeping your Children Safer Online'. You can read it here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Message from Minister Hancock

Minister Hancock has written a recent message in which he talks about Education Week and the new Education Act which was presented to Parliament on April 28th.

Click here or on the picture for details.