Making Education a Top Priority
School doors will open next week, and almost 6,000 Moose Jaw students will find teachers and school staff have already been hard at work to prepare for another year of learning. On the occasions when I am privileged to visit our schools, I am always impressed by the dedication of our educational staff and the many creative ways they engage students in learning. Thank you for all you do to create a brighter future for the students and for our world.
Nelson Mandela once said; “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education is the key to reducing poverty, to eliminating gender inequality, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing unnecessary deaths and illness, and to inspire peace. Education has been shown to increase economic growth and stability on both personal and societal levels.
Our provincial budget reflects the priority placed on education in our province. Twenty-two percent of the expense budget is invested in education, second only to health. Our Government has increased K-12 operating funding by 34 per cent since 2007 compared to an enrolment growth of 13 per cent. We have added more than 1100 teachers and support staff, and added 46 brand-new or replacement schools.
The months ahead will be exciting for our local school divisions as planning continues for a new joint-use school to replace Empire, Westmount, St. Mary and Sacred Heart Schools. Prairie South and Holy Trinity School Divisions have been collaborating on the project, and were very pleased when the new school was announced in the last budget. Public consultation began days after the announcement, and input regarding the location was gathered from community members last June.
I was pleased to hear that significant progress has been made over the summer. Selection of a project manager to oversee the construction from design to completion should be made before the end of this month. KPMG Consulting are in the process of doing a site study. Using the information gathered from community meetings, they will recommend a preferred site for the school. Once the school divisions review their recommendation, a site will be selected and a design for the school can begin.
Our school divisions are committed to continue updating and consulting with our community through all the phases of building. They encourage everyone to check the school division websites to see the latest updates on the new schools.
Student safety is of utmost importance to all involved in education. Directors of Education from both Divisions took time from a busy day to provide information about the new school. Tony Baldwin and Sean Chase were taking part in “First Rider”, a new safety program to introduce Kindergarten Students and their families to school bus safety. The Kindergarten students had an opportunity to practice riding the bus before their first day of school.
Returning students will be excited to meet with their friends as they go to school that first week. Please be extra cautious in school zones that have been quiet for the past two months. On our rural roads, attention is needed for the school bus “do not pass” flashing red lights, as well as the “slow vehicle” signs on harvesting equipment. We want everyone to stay safe.
To all students and staff, I wish you a successful year of learning.