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New chair for Palliser school board

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Sunny South News

The longest serving member of the board of trustees for Palliser Regional Schools has taken on the role of chairman.

Colleen Deitz, who was acclaimed to her sixth term on the board last month, has served 11 years as vice-chairman before taking on the new role to head up the board. Don Zech, who has served the past eight years as chairman, was elected as the new vice-chairman during the Oct. 29 organizational meeting.

For Zech it is his fifth term on the board and Deitz said he has always encouraged other trustees to consider filling the role of chairman. Following the recent election, Zech suggested she consider putting in her name for chair and she was elected to serve for at least a year until the next organizational meeting in the fall of 2014.

Deitz actually considered not running for another term on the school board.

“I though five terms was enough.”

But after attending a couple of rural congresses in Saskatoon in April she realized there were some issues coming down the pipe that would be impacting rural schools and she wanted to be part of that discussion at the board level.

New technology for classroom use, dealing with provincial funding cuts to education and the launch of cyberschools for Palliser students also impacted her decision to seek another term on the school board and to put forth her name to serve as chairman.

Looking back over her last 15 years on the board, Deitz said she is encouraged by all Palliser has accomplished in that time frame.

“If you look back, you see you have made a difference.”

She said she still feels there is some work to be done with the province and she is particularly excited about cyberschool and the impact it will have on rural students.

She praised the leadership of Zech as board chair and said she decided after all the years on the board she was ready to give the chair’s position a try.

“He’s been a great chair. I hope I can do 1/10th what he did as chair.”

Deitz said she welcomes and appreciates the opportunity to expand her role with the board of trustees. She is looking forward to working with the new board which has a couple of new trustees this time around. The previous board had been together for nine years and she noted it’s nice to have some change but the service the previous members gave was appreciated.

“I’m going to miss the others.”

In the coming term Deitz said the Palliser board needs to keep a close eye on the regulations coming down through the new school act. The school trustees will be discussing how the regulations will impact students at the classroom level.

“They are working on that right now,” she said of the province’s plans to roll out the new regulations in the near future.

She is also focused on cyberschool and said Palliser already has about 30 students registered for this semester. The cyberschool allows students to take distance learning online via Palliser’s own teaching staff.

“It’s a program that will be available to all kids.”

With provincial budget time fast approaching, she said the school board could be facing additional budget challenges depending on how the provinces decides to address education funding.

Personally, Deitz said she is interested in how other jurisdictions are choosing to handle cutbacks in funding. While Palliser has maintained class sizes and made changes in other ways to deal with cuts, she noted other jurisdictions have opted to increase class sizes.

She said Palliser made the decision about eight years ago to do away with site-based management and that has made all the difference to how the school division manages its funding. She feels other jurisdiction need to step up and make sure their principals are instructional leaders rather than business managers.

Deitz feels it is important for school trustees to manage the system and let educators, educate.

“We’re trustees for the kids.”

She said the school trustees need to look out for the whole system.

“That’s my passion right now.”

“I think it’s our responsibility to be the governors of education.”

She said Palliser’s decision to move away from site-based management has made a huge impact on the schools in the division.

“Our teachers are doing a great job.”

Although she doesn’t come from an education background, she said she can see what the teachers in Palliser are doing.

“They are doing fabulous things.”

She said more school boards across the province need to be accountable for how they are managing their provincial funding and they need to get rid of site-based management which just pits school against school for funding instead of fostering teamwork and schools collaborating to provide the best learning opportunities for their students.

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