Sioux North High School in Sioux Lookout opens its doors to students and staff!
Media Release - March 19, 2019
On Monday, March 18, 2019, our new school in Sioux Lookout, Sioux North High School, opened its doors to welcome students and staff for the first time.
The new school has 513 pupil places with 23 classrooms. At a cost of $30 million, features of the building include:
- Many large window and glass features throughout the building allowing for plenty of natural light and open areas.
- A sizeable multi-purpose cafeteria/auditorium (or cafetorium) with full dramatic arts capabilities, including telescopic seating, integrated lighting, elevated stage, and a sophisticated sound system.
- New, state of the art equipment and spaces for shop classes, science labs, communication labs and food and nutrition programs.
- New furniture throughout the building.
- A large and bright library with a wall of windows including a variety of seating options and work stations for students.
- A gym with a hardwood floor and large windows that fill the gym with natural light.
- A new music room with skylights to allow natural light in and all new instruments to support the music program.
The new school also includes spaces for our partners, including Confederation College and FIREFLY.
Wayne Mercer, Sioux North High School Principal, stated “Yesterday was a day that was long awaited. Watching our students enter their new building and explore the hallways was a moment in time that is hard to put into words. Our students and staff deserve this building and all of the opportunities the new space offers is exciting. All of this couldn’t have been possible without the work of so many people, as principal of the school, thank you to my staff and all of the Board employees who have worked tirelessly to get the building ready, and to everyone that assisted us in making yesterday’s transition smooth for our students. It was a day to remember and we look forward to making this new building home.”
Sean Monteith, Director of Education, added “From start to finish the new high school project in Sioux Lookout, now known as Sioux North High School, has represented more than the construction of a new building. It has always been about bringing equity and access to all students from Sioux Lookout, and all of the North. It has been about a new beginning for our communities, our young people and bringing equity of hope for their futures. It is an incredibly proud day and one that we will remember forever. The young people of Northern Ontario deserve nothing but the best, and it is my hope as Director of Education we have made this possibility a reality.”
In April 2014, the KPDSB announced, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Education, the allocation of $30 million to build a replacement school for Queen Elizabeth District High School in Sioux Lookout. The architect contract for the new building was appointed to Evans Bertrand Hill Wheeler Architecture Inc. in July 2014, with the construction contract being awarded to Everstrong Construction Limited in August 2016 following two years of planning and consultations. Official construction of the building, following site preparation, began in the summer of 2017.
A site blessing and groundbreaking ceremony for the new building was held in November 2015. In April 2017, following the work of a naming committee, Trustees approved the new name Sioux North High School for the new school, honouring the suggestion of students on the naming committee to name the school Sioux North.
Trustees award contract for Beaver Brae Secondary School Capital Project
Media Release - March 27, 2019
At a Special Board Meeting held on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, Trustees awarded Marrbeck Construction Ltd. the Beaver Brae Secondary School Capital Renovation Project.
At a total cost of $7,372,064 for Phase 1, the scope of work includes:
- A new dramatic arts room that includes telescopic seating for up to 150 people, as well as a new performance stage and theatre sound and lighting to accommodate the currently fastest growing program at the school
- A large visual arts studio with lots of open space and natural light
- A new welding/manufacturing shop
- Relocation of Beaver Brae’s popular Bike Shop to improve external access to the program and storage
- Upgraded Food and Nutrition/Hospitality space with new equipment to accommodate high demand for those programs
- Fully upgraded state of the art Communications Technology lab including a video broadcasting studio and green room, photo studio for digital photography and a new computer lab layout
- A new fitness and weight room more than double the size of the current space to support personal fitness among students and staff
- Upgraded cafeteria with new layout including booths and charging stations
Phase 1 of the capital project work at Beaver Brae will begin in late April. Phase 2 of capital project work at the school will upgrade the parking lot and athletic field and improve accessibly at the school.
Tracey Benoit, Principal of Beaver Brae Secondary School, stated “We are incredibly excited for our renovation to begin. Although it may cause some disruptions over the next while, we know that it will be worth it. Not only will our students benefit from upgraded learning spaces, but our community and local partnerships will reap the benefits as well. We see Beaver Brae as an extension of our community and look forward to sharing the space with our partners. Our staff and students were fortunate to have been able to provide their input and be a part of the design process as it was important for all to have a voice …it’s really exciting! Our teachers have created highly engaging programs and it will be rewarding to see these programs continue to grow and thrive in their new spaces. We look forward to the end result as we will have a new school to proudly highlight our students’ work.”
Letter to Families - Potential Student Walk-Out on April 4, 2019
Dear Families, Parents and Guardians, and Students,
We are aware of the potential of a provincial act of civil disobedience in the form of a “walk-out” tomorrow (April 4, 2019, at 1:15 pm) by students across Ontario to protest proposed changes to education following recent announcements by the Ontario government. To be clear, our intention is not to condone nor deny our students their individual expression of a right to protest, but rather to provide you with information.
We wanted to clarify with families that the walk-out is not a Keewatin-Patricia District School Board sanctioned event. It is our expectation as a school board that our students will attend their regularly scheduled classes the afternoon of April 4; however, it is not our intention to prevent students from participating in this planned action. Any students not in attendance in their classes will be marked as absent as per our school board policies, and families will be notified accordingly as per usual.
Our top priority is always the safety of our students and the planned walk-out raises concerns around student safety, especially if students plan to go off-site. Please be aware that we cannot, and will not provide supervision of students off-site as classes will be in session, and any student action will be deemed to be outside of the scope of the KPDSB. Should an elementary student leave the school property without parental consent, we will contact the family as per our policies.
As a Board, we would encourage parents and guardians to use this potential action as a learning opportunity. You might consider initiating a conversation with your child(ren) to discuss why a student may choose to participate in such actions; in other words, what it means to participate in an event like this. There are many ways students can voice their concerns and we believe it’s an important conversation for families to have.
Should you have any questions, we ask that you please contact your school’s principal.
Director of Education and Chief Executive Officer
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board
April Board Meeting - Trustees learn about entrepreneurship programming in schools, receive learning technologies update
Media Release - April 11, 2019
Trustees met at the Kenora Education Centre on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, for a regular Board Meeting.
The April Kids Come First presentation titled ‘Valleyview Entrepreneurship Program’ was received by Trustees. Lisa Achilles, Principal of Valleyview Public School, Valleyview students, and Cierra Parkhill, Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation (LOWBIC), shared their recent learning with Trustees. Valleyview Public School has introduced a focus on business and entrepreneurship in partnership with LOWBIC through the Head Start in Business program. The goal of the program is to create learning environments that expose students to entrepreneurship experiences. The creativity and experiences shared by the students through programs like Be a Business Bee (Kindergarten-Grade 2), Create a Business Logo (Grades 3-6), and Kids Invent Program (Grade 6), impressed the Board of Trustees. With programs also available for intermediate and secondary students, there is no shortage of opportunities for program expansion in KPDSB schools. Components of the program are also available in French to support French Immersion students. Trustees thanked the presenters and expressed their hope to see more of this programming in schools in the future.
Jason McDonald, Learning Technologies Administrator, and Alexander McEachern, Technology-Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact, presented an update on the 2017-2020 KPDSB Learning Technologies Strategic Plan. Currently, in the second year of the three-year plan, technology-enabled learning has continued to expand and be available to students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Key components of the plan include:
- The introduction of more than 400 Chromebooks in all primary grades with purposeful planning as to which applications will best meet student learning needs.
- The implementation of the G Suite set of educational tools from Google to support online classroom environments that allow for access to learning anytime and anywhere.
- Leveraging technology to collaborate across the region and beyond using video conferencing software that enables teachers to bring experts from various fields into classrooms, and helps students to develop global connections with students all over the world.
- Fostering creativity and critical problem-solving skills in students across the Board including providing more STEAM-focused learning opportunities through hands-on Makerspaces, computer coding and robotics.
- Integrating design technology into schools like 3-D printers and plasma cutters that allow students to learn with industry-standard tools.
- Ensuring on-going professional learning for staff through Learning Technology Champions at each elementary and secondary school who work with the Technology Enhanced Learning Teacher to mobilize and support the purposeful integration of technology for teaching and learning.
Richard Findlay, Superintendent of Business, presented an update on the KPDSB’s migration to new financial/accounting software called Sparkrock. Implementation began in October 2018 with a planned go-live date of July 1, 2019. Benefits provided by Sparkrock include cloud-based accessibility from anywhere with internet, timely and accurate financial reporting resulting in more informed decision making, and electronic approval routing for invoice payments, purchase orders and expense claims, making financial processes much more efficient and streamlined.
June Board Meeting Highlights - KPDSB Approves 2019-2024 Strategic Plan
Media Release - June 12, 2019
Trustees met at Red Lake District High School on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, for the last regular Board Meeting of the 2018-2019 school year.
The June Kids Come First presentation titled ‘The Red Lake DHS Food and Nutrition Initiative’ was received by Trustees. RLDHS teacher Darren Bausch, and students Connar Oster, Morgan Howell and Logan Ryczek, shared details of the initiative and how it has impacted them personally since it was implemented. The goal of the initiative is to encourage students to know where their food comes from, as well as to provide healthy food options in the school and to model healthy eating for students. From student athletes who have noticed an improvement in their conditioning, to students and staff composting and growing their own healthy foods right at the school, the benefits to the school community as a whole are being celebrated.
The 2019-2024 Strategic Plan was presented and approved by the Trustees, and concludes months of consultations and gathering of feedback from stakeholders. The new plan will guide the work of the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board for the next five years. The plan includes a new vision statement; the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board puts students first by creating a culture of learning. New goals or areas of focus include:
- Student Achievement – Ensure the necessary resources are provided to all students to increase their individual achievement.
- Safe and Supportive Schools – Ensure all students and staff have safe learning and working environments, where the academic and mental health needs of the child are met.
- Innovative Practice – Demonstrate effective “Change Ready” leadership.
- Reconciliation – Ensure all school and staff are actively engaged in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
Director of Education Sean Monteith presented the 2019 Employee Recognition Report. Each June, The Board publically acknowledges all employees with 25 years of service and retirees for their achievement and contributions to education in the Northwest. The 2018-2019 school year brought with it the retirement of 17 dedicated employees and another 11 were recognized for reaching the 25-year milestone. Combined, these employees have more than 700 years of service to public education. The Board of Trustees acknowledge this incredible contribution and expressed gratitude for all they have done for children and youth throughout their careers.
The Sioux Lookout Capital Assets Report was presented to the Board. Trustees voted to direct Board Administration to approach the Ministry of Education to utilize $1 million in existing reserve funds to proceed with the demolition of the prohibitive to repair portion of Queen Elizabeth District High School in Sioux Lookout (students and staff moved into their new school, Sioux North High School, in March 2019). The remaining portions of the building would be renovated and retrofitted in conjunction with Seven Generations Education Institute to offer post-secondary programming, including paraprofessional worker programs, Indigenous Nursing programs and Adult Education programs to support adults without a high school diploma.
Under Business Arising from Committee of the Whole, Monteith presented the KPDSB Consolidation Report. Recent government funding rollbacks amounting to approximately 4% of the overall annual Board operating budget have caused the administration and Trustees to look at all areas of spending for potential savings. The Board’s adopted stance to protect teaching positions and instructional services means that all operations needed review including the way the Board does business between the two offices, one in Dryden and the Head Office Kenora Board Office. After careful consideration, a motion was put forward and approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees to consolidate the two Board Offices and relocate both offices to Keewatin Public School in Kenora for September 2022. In total, the cost to operate both offices including lease and overall costs associated is in excess of $200,000 per year. In addition, the merging of the two offices into one location would allow for unprecedented job and portfolio consolidations, and in the process find significant savings at the central level. The end result of consolidating the Board Offices would be a mitigation of reductions in classrooms and school based positions at both elementary and secondary panel.
At present, Keewatin Public School is currently operating at approximately 50% capacity in terms of student occupancy and pupil places. The elimination of the remaining 160 pupil places on the second floor of Keewatin Public School to accommodate the KPDSB Board Office supports the Board’s efforts to apply and secure funding for its only remaining major capital project priority: a replacement school for Valleyview Public School in Kenora.
Monteith stated “Tonight the Board of Trustees have made the decision to act on their commitment to the vision of the KPDSB, to put kids first. By approving a new Strategic Plan for the next five years and to make progressive decisions on capital and consolidation that protect classrooms, the Trustees of the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board have taken the hard course of action and not shied away from our challenges. In the end our staff, our schools and our students will be the better for it.”