By Craig Albrecht
For Westwind Weekly News
The provincial budget announced last Thursday will bring with it new fiscal realities but Westwind School Division’s commitment to its students remains true.
“Providing a quality education for every one of our students continues to be our highest priority,” says Ken Sommerfeldt, Westwind’s superintendent of schools. “Now we are going to spend the next few weeks looking at how we are going to maintain that.”
Funding announced in the budget will likely mean a shortfall of about $1 million for Westwind School Division. Dexter Durfey, associate superintendent business services, will work with senior administration to interpret that information over the next few days and gain a greater understanding of the implication it will have on Westwind’s financial picture.
“Over the next two to three weeks more and more information will be available to us, allowing the Board to make the necessary decisions to succeed in this new fiscal reality,” says Durfey.
Although budget details were not released until last Thursday, Westwind has been investigating every possible scenario and potential solution for some time. Sommerfeldt says administration and Westwind School Board Trustees have done extensive work, dating back to their planning session in January, in anticipation of the impact of declining oil prices on the budget.
“We have consulted with principals, repeatedly, and we are working together to bring about a unified solution that will maintain the quality of instruction and support we have been proud to deliver,” he says.
There has been a deep focus in Westwind School Division the past five years to invest in its teachers, says Sommerfeldt, and that training and professional development ensures they are on solid footing in the face of new challenges as they strive to help every student succeed.
Westwind is also confident that the many community partners it has fostered over the years – parents in particular – will continue their support as administration, trustees and staff look for solutions that can move the education system forward.
We can’t do things like we always did. These are times when we need to band together and unite as a whole Division for the best education and opportunities for our students,” says Sommerfeldt.