Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CBE Year-end Financial Report

The Calgary Board of Education delivered the year-end financial report Monday.  Although the budget anticipated a $19.2 million deficit, the result was a surplus of $49.8 million. 

Read the full report here.

Should Alberta Fund Private Schools?

Do you think your tax dollars should fund private schools?

Liberal MLA Kent Hehr said Monday that the province could save up to $50 million a year by stopping the subsidies.  Hehr believes in the public system and states that although it is a right to not take part in the public school system, it is not a right for taxpayers to fund that choice.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alberta’s new anti-bullying law could punish kids who don’t report incidents

By Steve Mertl | Daily Brew I think everyone now agrees that bullying should not be treated as a normal rite of passage for children, a character-building exercise they have to tough their way through.

But some critics think a part of Alberta's new Education Act that officially outlaws bullying goes too far. The new law's anti-bullying sections are being scrutinized as other provinces struggle for ways to address the bullying problem.

Section 31 (e) of the Act, which came into effect earlier this month, says students, as partners in education, have the responsibility to "refrain from, report and not tolerate bullying or bullying behaviour directed toward others in the school, whether or not it occurs within the school building, during the school day or by electronic means."

Click here to read the full story.

Dare to Care Parent Night

On Tuesday, November 20, parents at Haultain Memorial School had the incredible opportunity to listen to an informative, interesting and helpful talk on bullying.  Expert Lisa Dixon-Wells facilitated the session, Dare to Care: Bully Proofing Your Child.  On a personal note, when I arrived at the school Tuesday evening, I was not looking forward to sitting in a chair, in the gym to listen to someone speak about one topic for over two hours.  However, almost immediately after Lisa began to speak, I became completely engaged with every word she said. 

The time flew by, as she spoke with so much knowledge, energy and passion.  According to Lisa, the two biggest issues today surrounding bullying are, what she called, "the girl issue: the hidden culture of aggression" and cyberbullying.  Before getting into details about the issues, Lisa clearly defined the meaning of bullying, pointing out that the word can be overused which, inevitably, minimizes the real issue.  She also acknowledged that bullying is a learned behaviour from home and can be corrected if parents are open to work with their child.

Lisa addressed three major changes in bullying that has happened over the past twenty years.  The first change is that children are presenting more challenging behaviors than before.  The second change is the younger age at which bullying behavior is occurring in children.  The final change change in bullying Lisa pointed out is the maliciousness that now exists.  Factors such as media, breakdown of families and breakdown of communities have contributed to these changes.  The good news is that parents and communities have the power to control these factors and inevitably fight bullying.

An interesting segment of Lisa's talk was centred around, what she calls, "provocative victims."  These are children who often are bullied or are misunderstood to be bullies themselves.  A provocative victim is often gifted, bright, bored, complex, restless, academic and has a strong sense of fairness and justice. These children socially struggle and tend to be avoided by others because of their lack of understanding with concepts such as personal space and the ability to read body language and tone of voice.  Provocative victims will often take a long time to explain things and may tend to make silly noises and gestures.  Again, however, the good news is that parents have the power to help these children by teaching social skills.  Lisa highly recommends the books, Nobody Likes Me Everybody Hates Me by Michele Borba and Perfect Targets by Rebekah Heinrichs for parents of provocative victims.

Other books recommended by Lisa are Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons, for parents of girls and Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons, for girls of grade four and up.  These books address the issue of bullying amongst girls.  For parents of boys, Lisa recommends Real Boys, by William Pollack.  She also highly recommends children, parents and educators see the movie, Odd Girl Out, available from  Lisa suggested a website for parents, www.getwebwise, that breaks down the lingo children and teens are using with their digital communications.  The site reveals the meanings of hundreds of acronyms now used for texting, on line chatting and emailing.

Lisa ended the talk by addressing a concrete formula victims of bullying can use.  The acronym, "HA HA SO", stands for: Help, Assert, Humor, Avoid, Self Talk and Own It.  Each word is a tool that victims can use in situations of bullying.  Our children were taught these valuable tools when Lisa worked with them in the school.  She had the students role play and practice the different techniques, depending on the bullying situation. 

Thank you to Haultain's Parent Association for funding this invaluable program and thank you to Mrs. O'Connor for bringing the idea to the floor.  Finally, thank you to Lisa Dixon-Wells for sharing the Dare to Care program at Haultain and teaching staff, students and parents the life changing skills, facts and concepts around the issue of bullying.

For more information on the Dare to Care program, go to

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alberta parents worry most about children’s education

Financial security a close second 

By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald

According to new research from TD Insurance, parents in Alberta worry most about how their kids are doing in school (73 per cent) followed by their financial security (72 per cent), and health (71 per cent).

The poll, which was released Monday, also found 94 per cent of Alberta parents surveyed have life insurance. However more than half (59 per cent) don’t think their policy will leave enough money to financially support their children up until their 18th birthday.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Public Assistance

The Calgary Police Service is seeking public assistance for information surrounding a suspicious person who approached a school bus driver and student.
On Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, around 3:30 p.m., a school bus was stopped on Queensland Drive S.E. and had just finished letting some students off when a car pulled up in front of the bus, stopped and backed up close to the front of the bus. An unknown man got out of the car, peered into the bus and approached the passenger door. Motioning to a seven-year-old female student in the front seat, the man asked the driver if the girl had a ride home. The driver, who was familiar with the student and the family members who most often picked her up, told the man the student’s father was waiting for her.
The man returned to his vehicle, quickly pulling away in a U-turn and left the area.
The man is described as Caucasian, 6’ tall, weighing 190 – 200 lbs, with light brown, shoulder-length hair, a brown, neatly-trimmed beard, and large blue eyes. He may be in his late 40s early 50s, and has a British or Australian accent. He was wearing a bright yellow-orange jacket with clean, tidy blue jeans.
The vehicle is described as newer-model, grey SUV, which was recently washed.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously, using any of the following methods:

TALK: 1-800-222-8477
TEXT: tttTIPS to 274637

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Tonight is the parent information session, Dare to Care: Bully-Proofing Your Child.  The evening will be facilitated by Lisa Dixon-Wells, an expert in the field of bullying. The Dare to Care program is the recipient of the Imagine Canada award, bringing a new approach to building a caring community.  Being informed is a powerful tool for actively standing up against bullying.  Please plan to attend.  The session is at Haultain Memorial School tonight, 6:30 to 9:30 pm. 

No Zero Policy Discussed at ABSA General Meeting

ABSA (Alberta School Boards Association) held its fall general meeting yesterday.  The association's conference runs November 18-20 in Edmonton. The public discussion was about student testing in the province.  Albertans are being asked about testing and marks in schools, including what the appropriate assessment tools for students are and who should apply them.

Read more about the story on Global News: Global Edmonton | No-zero issue sparks larger discussion about student assessment in Alberta

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Much Sleep Do Our Kids Need?

With the onset of winter days and dark mornings, it can become difficult to wake up for school.  How much sleep do our children need to be rested for the day?  According to The National Sleep Foundation, children between five and twelve years should get ten to eleven hours of sleep each night.  The foundation's website offers helpful advice and suggestions for parents regarding sleep for babies, preschoolers and school aged children.

Check out the website here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

From The Casino Director

A quick follow up to Roxane's previous post from Martine:

  • Haultain Memorial School: Casino nights November 2 and 3 at Deerfoot Inn
  • 2  16 hour days
  • 36 volunteers, 3 back up volunteers
  • Free:  food, enlightening conversations, new friendships formed
  • Approximate hourly rate of pay: $2097 for the school
  • We could not have done it without you!
  • Thanks to the following parents, grandparents and friends of Haultain:  Marc, Ralph, Lucy, Nicki, Stephan, Steve, Amber, Shona, Carmen, Trevor, John, Bonnie, Nick, Terry, Amanda, Linda McD, Coleen, Damon, Cindi, Lisa H, Jennifer B, Jeff, Lisa C, Tara, Jennifer L, Lorraine, Melinda, Anna, Christy, Roxanne, Eric, Shane, Tammy, Susanne, Linda, Pat, Tanya, Gail and Martine
  • New Casino Chairperson: Jennifer B. Please support her in 18 months when we host another fun filled Casino experience

Big Money For Haultain!

This past weekend, Haultain Memorial Parents Association had its huge fundraiser at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino.  A handful of parents, grandparents and CBE staff members volunteered their time to work at the casino, enabling our school to likely cash in between $67,000 to $68,000 dollars by the end of this year.  The money will be used to expand new educational resources for all of Haultain's students.  (Come out to the monthly meetings on Thursday evenings, in the library at Haultain, to voice your opinion on how the money should be spent.) This fundraiser is essential, as it brings in the largest quantity of money for the parent association.  Please consider signing up in eighteen months for the next casino.  It truly is a fun experience where you get to enjoy a nice meal, hang out with friends and meet new people within Haultain's community.  Thank you Martine for your amazing efforts in organizing this event and carrying it through to an incredibly successful end!

CBE eyes review of trustee pay and perks

By Richard Cuthbertson, Calgary Herald 

Calgary public school board trustees will be asked Tuesday to approve spending $25,000 on a consultant to review their compensation and benefits in comparison to other elected officials.

 Trustees are paid $46,618 a year, with chairwoman Pat Cochrane receiving an extra honorarium of $10,476, and vice-chair Lynn Ferguson an extra $5,238.

 That has remained the same for the past five years. This spring, a trustee remuneration committee recommended an in-depth review for this school year.

 In a report going to trustees Tuesday, they are recommending a consultant be hired to prepare an independent review that would look at “compensation philosophy” and what other jurisdictions pay. CBE staff would help prepare some of the information. That review would be submitted to the remuneration committee, made up of two CBE trustees and four members of the public. The committee would make a recommendation on pay and benefits in early spring.

Read more here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

RESP's: the earlier the better

$5238.00 - this is the 2010/2011 cost per year of classes at the University of Calgary humanities program.  This doesn't include any living expenses or campus fees.  The cost is going up. In fact since 2001, the costs have increased 32% and according to this article, tuition fees are increasing three times faster than inflation. Graduates are taking an average of 14 years to pay back their $27,000 (average) of students loans.

There are many people who feel education should be free for Canada's citizens, paid for by the government and subsidized by foreign students as it is in some countries (Germany, France, Italy, Norway, etc.).  Maybe someday that will be the case, but for now, a very expensive Canadian education is the reality.

There are ways to help absorb the impact when the time comes; bursaries, scholarships, and grants are very helpful if your student has the marks. Another option is RESP's. A registered education savings plan is a great way to plan for the future.

I came across an article this morning in The Windsor Star's 'money' section that has a great overview of RESP's; every family who aspires to send their kids to a post-secondary institution should consider this investment. As the article says, its better to start as early as possible to increase the benefit but its not too late even up to your child's 15th birthday year.  The government kicks in an additional 20% of your contribution up to $500 each year.