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April 10, 2018

Our hearts go out to the parents, families, teammates, and friends of the Humbolt Broncos whose bus was involved in a tragic accident on April 6, 2018. Like many parents I couldn’t help but think how I would be feeling today if my son had been part of this tragedy and I am so very thankful that he was not. I, like so many parents, feel an immense pride when we see our children pursue their dreams and desires. These young men, their coaches, and accompanying supports all left on that bus never imagining what they would encounter. It was a road trip they had taken, like my son has taken, so many times before. Unfortunately, this event marks another in a line of many tragedies that we see in our schools, here at home and worldwide. All of us, as teachers and/or parents, want our children and our students to be safe. We want this in our communities. We must have this in our schools.

I spent this Easter vacation watching my son play hockey in his annual provincial tournament. After the hockey had ended I enjoyed the remainder of the time with my family. I truly hope each of you spent your break relaxing and enjoying quality time with family and friends. This recent tragedy makes these moments even more precious.

But now you have returned to your schools and classrooms with the realization that the school year is progressing and there will be this push to the end. Each and every one of you have spent the past 8+ months delivering the highest quality of education that you could, given the resources available to you. Just prior to the Easter break the Provincial Budget was released and as I stated in my many media interviews following the Budget, I was pleased there was a recognition that more needs to be done to support our schools. I was encouraged by the infusion of monies and see this as being a good first step. I would have liked to see all our schools receive the LRT allocations. All our schools would benefit from the provision of Reading Specialists. Placing TLAs in our schools will be beneficial. Over the next couple of years I am hopeful that the plan to roll out these allocations to all our schools will come to fruition.

I would be disingenuous, however, if I stated that the budget delivered all that we needed. I was disappointed that given all the attention to student mental health we did not see a move to bring allocations to national standards for school counsellors and school psychologists. We know that class size /class composition concerns are real and impact on the ability for students to receive the quality of education they deserve and a move to address this would have been well received. Our school administrators are still reeling from the effects that the reduction in allocation has had on their ability to provide true instructional leadership in their schools. A reinstatement of the administrative units certainly would have been a move in the right direction.

In the days following the budget I was asked by a teacher who had seen my media interviews if this was a great budget for teachers. My answer to him was, “It’s a good first step”. A step that we need to keep taking. There is more that needs to be done, but I am encouraged that at this point in time we are at least seeing a recognition of what is needed and at least a step on the path that is needed.