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12082022Thu
Last updateThu, 08 Dec 2022 4pm

Group critical of Golden Hills International Program

    A group in the Acme Linden area is raising concerns about costs of the Golden Hill School Division’s International program.
    ALIVE (Acme Linden Inspiring Visionary Education) raised an alarm bell after reading the Golden Hills School Division revenue and expenses breakdown from September 1 to November 30 of last year. It showed a $147,000 deficit for the program in the first three months of the school year.  They wrote an open letter to chair of the School Divisions’ Board asking what is the “real cost of the Golden Hills International Student program?”
    “This Golden Hills report is not consistent with the past message that this International Student program is a major cash generator for the school division,” said the letter signed by Dave Price on behalf of ALIVE.  “These points are without touching on the non-financial but critical question of the extra workload for the teachers and fellow students where these students are in their classrooms.”
    Ron Kenworthy says the numbers quoted in the report are correct, however, he says there is a note following the breakdown, which says the “statement includes revenue on a cash basic for all departments except for International Student Services and Federal Government where revenue is recognized based on invoiced amounts.”
    “They are talking about actual dollar amounts as if everything that was due was paid today,” Kenworthy told The Mail after being alerted to the letter.  “We don’t get everything all neat and tidy.”
    This means while the expenses to run the program accumulate daily, the revenues come in at different times. This is explained further within the report.
    “Although revenue is received in unequal amounts (most in September, January and June) expenses are distributed more evenly.”
    It also states International Students Services has invoiced $4.2 million, however some students may not receive visas to enter Canada, thus the actual funds received will likely vary from the invoiced amount. The revenue reported in the quarterly report represents the visa approved students invoiced to date.
    “You are always going to have variances in quarterly reports because income does not come in exactly when expenses occur,” said Kenworthy. “We’re not losing money on this program. At some point in the year it could show a loss, but by the end of the year you are okay.”
    The ALIVE letter also raises the point that only $12,808 is directed to certified salaries and benefits to serve 179 students in the program. The letter concludes the cost represents 2/3 of one teacher for 179 students.
    “How can less than one certified teacher cover 179 students in a variety of schools?
    If we said 179 students would have closer to 10 certified teachers, then the additional cost would be over $210,000 for the first three months,” the letter states.
    Kenworthy responds, “If we were teaching those students in a completely separate program you would need 10 teachers to handle it, but they are intermixed with other students in the classrooms.
    He says integration is one of the strengths of the program.
    “So that helps us pay for teachers for local kids too,” said Kenworthy.
    This is not the first time ALIVE has been critical of the Golden Hills School Division. In February they issued a press release regarding the board’s process for allocating representation when amending the number of electoral wards.
   

Golden Hills responds to critique of international program

The following is a response to open letter to Golden Hills School Board from Mr. D. Price regarding International Student Services Program.

    Thank you for your recent letter regarding the International Student Services in Golden Hills.  The board is pleased to respond and address your misunderstandings.
    First, it is important to know that Alberta Education has a very comprehensive international education strategy so we encourage interested individuals to visit the Alberta Education website for more information about international education in Alberta.  The International Education Services (ISS) program of Golden Hills aligns with Alberta Education’s strategy on international education.  For advice and support in establishing ISS, the board is grateful to Dr. Lyle Oberg, former Minister of Education. 
    Further, please note the following:
  •  The quarterly financial report, reviewed at the April 13 board meeting shows a significant positive variance for international services:   $1,259,703.35.  The first quarterly deficit was due to a timing difference, since resolved, between reported revenue and expenses.
  • Schools receive funding in the form of revenue transfers for international students and decide whether to purchase staff or use the funds in some other way to benefit students.  The site based decision is influenced by many factors such as the number of students and placement within existing classes.
  • International students are enrolled in several schools around our division.  That is why it is impossible to divide the full time equivalent enrolment by a part time certificated teacher cost to arrive at a speculated shortfall.
  • More resident than international pupils qualify for ESL services, yet the programming developed and supported by international education benefits all our ESL learners.  International Student Services provides a part time teacher to support English as a Second Language programming.
  • Recruitment costs are included in the expense statements.  Many principals have travelled to recruit at education fairs, visit schools, and meet agents and parents.  Travel provides a unique, valued professional development opportunity.
  • A Director of ISS administers the program and reports to the division administration. Due to a resignation, ISS is currently supervised by division administration.  The role of the superintendent is comprehensive and is not expensed by task.
  • Board members have not participated in international travel for the ISS program.  The superintendent, a member of Alberta Education’s International Advisory Council, was invited by the Chinese government to visit last spring.  HANBAN (China’s approximate equivalent to our Ministry’s international services branch) paid the expenses.
  • The primary purpose of the ISS program is the educational benefit to our students.  Our students will work cross culturally with people from around the world as they enter the world of work and post secondary education.  We prepare students to participate in the global village by providing opportunities in our classrooms.  The division does not tout the program as “a major cash generator;” nevertheless, annual revenue for the division is approximately $3.5 million.  Despite H1N1 and a significant downturn in the world’s economy, we continue to fund international services through resources generated by the program.
  • International students also stabilize enrolment across the division.  One effect is that small high schools with international students are able to offer high level courses in physics, chemistry and mathematics as a result of additional resources and sufficient enrolment interest to offer a class. 
    Finally, all young people are worth the effort: no student is “extra workload.”  As our students learn to work together despite obvious differences in language, culture, religion, and physical appearance, we find hope for the possibility of building a kinder, gentler world.  At one time students with special needs were also considered “extra workload and intrusions on fellow students.”  Fortunately, classrooms today are richer because we embrace diversity. 
    International students in Golden Hills are among our top athletes, scholars, volunteers, and leaders in student circles.  They bring many extraordinary talents and skills.  We are privileged to have so many young people from around the world contribute to our schools and enrich the lives of our students. 


Sincerely,

Ron Kenworthy
Chair
Golden Hills School Board

Society formed to preserve Hanna Roundhouse

roundhouse.jpg
    A society interested in preserving Hanna’s local history is campaigning to raise funds to purchase the Hanna Roundhouse.
    The Hanna Roundhouse Society was formed officially in January of this year. The vision of the Hanna Roundhouse Society is to restore the roundhouse in Hanna and possibly build a cultural centre to support local rural communities along the railway.
    To get there, they first have to secure the property. Sandra Beaudoin, president and founder of the society said it is campaigning to raise funds to purchase the property on which the historical icon is situated.
    “The most important lots of the Roundhouse property is Lot 3 (Roundhouse building site) and Lot 2, directly west of the building,” said Beaudoin.
    The society has been in contact with the current owner of the property and has made them aware of its interest.
    “She (the owner) has provided us with a price for the two lots of $200,000, but will donate $30,000 to the Hanna Roundhouse Society, reducing our net price for the two lots to $170,000. The smaller lot directly along Palliser Trail (Lot 1) would be nice to have, but in order to start restoration and developing, Lots 2 and 3 are the most important and need to be purchased soon,” said Beaudoin.
    She adds the asking price provided to the Hanna Roundhouse Society, is to remain the same until December 31, 2011.
    In the meantime, the society has been busy doing groundwork. It is registered as a non-profit society and has opened a bank account. Donations are tax deductible. To spread the message they have a website at www.hannaroundhouse.com, and set up a Facebook group to keep interested parties up to date with developments.
    “We are trying to anticipate everything needed to be done to ensure the proper checks are in place prior to purchasing the roundhouse property and to be aware of any restrictions we may be faced with in developing the property,” she said.
    She has recently had an appraisal completed on the property and has had a structural engineer in to assess the integrity of the structure.
    The vision of the society is to restore the Hanna Roundhouse to its original state (or as much as possible), build a cultural centre directly west of the roundhouse lot to exhibit history of local railroad workers and railroad archives, as well as local settlers and prairie families. It also has the vision to construct a venue for live theatre, conferences or weddings. It would also be a venue to support local artisans.
    “There are many other ideas in the developmental stage with the focus of community involvement to support the communities in and around Hanna. Since the roundhouse is the focal point of the whole project, there will also be a strong theme dedicated to the railroad; but everything is dependent on purchasing the roundhouse property,” said Beaudoin. “The Hanna Roundhouse Society is in the process of applying for grants and will continue to do so. However, this process can consume a large amount of time and further delay starting the restoration work and in the preparation work required for the restoration.”
 For more information or to donate to the not-for-profit Hanna Roundhouse Society, contact sandra.beaudoin1@gmail.com.

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