Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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Superintendent says budget and pre-primary are two highlights from 2017

Strait Regional School Board officials say the recent passing of their budget was good news.

Ford Rice, Superintendent, says they're pleased there was no layoffs.

He says they had a 2.6% funding increase as part of the budget.

In a year-end interview with The Hawk, Rice says they've been able to have 19 new teaching positions for the 2017-2018 year.

"With this funding, we've been able to, even though it's targeted funding, whether it be math or literacy or class caps- we've been able to implement positions that we wouldn't have been able to."

Rice says the increases came from various school levels.

He says they can provide better supports for their students with the additional positions.

The superintendent says it sounds like pre-primary is going very well so far.

The play-based learning program started at six new sites within the board in late October.

Ford Rice says they're very pleased the Strait Regional School Board has the second-largest amount of locations in the province with eight in-total, only behind the Halifax Regional School Board.

Rice tells The Hawk things are off to a successful start.

"From all reports that we have, the pre-primary program is going really well," he says. "The children, not only are they in pre-primary, but they're being integrated across the school curriculum as well- like using the library or using the gym."

Rice says older students sometimes work as reading buddies with the four-year-olds, so it also benefits those students with leadership opportunities.

Ford Rice says a boundary review was one topic that they didn't get as far as they wanted to.

Rice says as part of their business plan, they talked about reviewing the transportation boundary review for the Town of Antigonish.

He says they're looking to make things more efficient.

Rice says they had the bar set high and will continue to look at the issue.

"We weren't able to accomplish what we had wanted to accomplish, but that's in our business plan again," he says. "The idea that we were going to accomplish that in one year or two years was probably a bit ambitious because of the magnitude of the work to be done."

Rice says they're looking forward to moving the issue forward in the New Year, but they'll probably be looking into it for a number of years.

The superintendent says there's lots to be discussed moving forward.

Ford Rice says the Education System Administrative Review is expected to be released sometime in January; it will provide further direction to the board with what happens in 2018.

He says their international students program is also going to be a focus.

Rice tells The Hawk the growth in the number of international students was the best in the province this year.

"Even though we probably have the smallest number of international students in boards in Nova Scotia, we had the highest growth this year- we had a growth of 24 per cent," he says. "These students stay anywhere from four weeks-to-ten months."

Rice says they currently have 97 students from 20 countries; they'll try to expand on the program in the future.

He says a report from the Commission on Inclusive Education will also be released; that's expected to be announced March 20.

You can listen to the entire year-end interview with Ford Rice by clicking below.


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