BRSD: COVID-19 costs are adding up

Briefs from the Jan. 28 Board of Trustees meeting

Battle River School Division logo

The Battle River School Division (BRSD) trustees heard at their meeting on Jan. 28, 2021, that the extra costs being incurred to keep students and school staff safe through the pandemic are continuing to rise.

About $1.4 million has been spent this year on the development of an At-Home Learning Program for families who are not currently attending school in-person, as well as for additional staff to do daytime cleaning in school buildings and for all the specialized disinfectants and Personal Protective Equipment that is required to clean and sanitize schools and school buses.

Re-investing in students

When the new budget year began in September, Battle River School Division was in the process of selecting a new insurance provider. As the cost of insurance has risen significantly in recent years, the division set aside a generous amount in preparation for any unexpected increases. Now that the insurance contract is settled, there are dollars remaining unspent.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to re-invest those dollars into programs and services that will benefit students and staff.

More than $300,000 was allocated to support literacy, student assessment and development of new programs that will meet student learning needs, as well as for technology equipment, program promotion and survey software that will help the division obtain input from parents. In addition, funds were allocated for the development of a 10-year capital project plan and for the purchase of flow meters and monitoring equipment, in order to better protect school buildings from water damage. Installation of the meters will also help mitigate risk, which is beneficial to our insurance premiums.

Consolidating programs

BRSD will be combining four different schools and programs into one umbrella service designed to meet the needs of students who want alternative programming.

Camrose Outreach School, Battle River Online School, Home Education and the new At-Home Learning program are all being consolidated, effective the 2021-2022 school year.

The division has already put the schools and programs under the supervision of one Administrator. COS and BROL are also now located in the same physical space.

This change requires the school division to go through a school closure process for BROL School, to enable the marking and accounting processes to be combined with Camrose Outreach School by Alberta Education. This is only a procedural process and will not impact the service to students in any way. The closure motion will be dealt with at the Board’s March meeting.

Planning for summer school

BRSD will be offering summer school in a virtual format this July, which makes it possible for non-BRSD students to enroll and be supported in their learning.

Non-refundable fees for courses were set at $45 per course for BRSD students and $65 per course for non-BRSD students. These fees offset the use of chromebooks and software required by both students and staff.

– Source: Battle River School Division

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