School superintendent reflects on a year of change for Prince Rupert schools.

School district 52's superintendent, Lynn Hauptman, reflects on all the changes to Prince Rupert Schools in 2011 and what comes next.

2011 was not just another year for Prince Rupert’s schools. The community’s entire school system has been undergoing many changes, teachers striking, schools closing, renovations, new team names, the works.

Now, at the beginning of 2012, The Northern View asked the  superintendent of Prince Rupert’s school district, Lynn Hauptman to share her thoughts on 2011 and what to expect this year.

“The past twelve months have been exciting times for School District #52 (Prince Rupert)  The reconfiguration of the entire district came to fruition this September after many, many planning meetings, consultations, research, visits to other districts, etc,”

Hauptman says that reconfiguration of the school district has taken many steps that all had to come together in time for last September. All the Elementary schools  except for Hartley Bay and Port Ed now have student populations of roughly equal size after Westwood Elementary was closed and its students and french immersion classes had to be successfully transplanted into Westview Elementary.

This fall the new middle school began its first academic year after the district amalgamated the two high schools in to Charles Hays Secondary School. The new school needed to start finding its own identity and chose a new name for their sports teams: Storm.  Hauptman says the new middle school is structured to better meet the needs and learning styles of adolescents.

“This creates a wonderful transition between elementary and high school . . .We were also recently awarded a grant from the Ministry of Education to build a new playground for the middle school.  Preparation for the installation will begin this spring, “ says Hauptman.

The newly-amalgamated high school received some grant money from the government as part of a program for “growing innovation in rural areas.” The school is conducting a pilot project between Grade 9 students and the City of Prince Rupert working on Urban Renewal which is worth course credits to the students.

There were other big moments in 2011 for the school district such as beginning to replace the outside of CHSS after three years of waiting for approval.

“We also began the new exciting technology project called “1 to 1” that provides a notebook for all grade 6 students.  The final shipments of computers arrived just prior to the holidays and have now been dispersed into the grade 6 classrooms,” says Hauptman.

Hauptman says the biggest challenge of the whole year was  just trying to manage all the changes to the school system.

“At no time in the past, has this district ever undergone such a massive change.  The entire district was restructured which resulted in a great deal of movement of teachers and support staff around the district. “

The successful transition, she says, is thanks to the hard work of the school staff from the teacher to the  maintenance staff who had to move 40 truckloads of furniture, supplies and other things around the district last year.

“There is still much work to be done in creating new cultures and routines in our schools and this will happen as we work together to ensure we have created the best possible learning environments for our students.”

The district has also had to deal with a teacher strike preventing teachers from performing administrative tasks such as filling report cars.

“The current provincial teacher job action has hindered both the reconfiguration work and other ongoing education initiatives, but we look forward to resuming our collaborative processes once the contract negotiations have been reached.“

The superintendent says that getting a new collective agreement with the teachers and the support staff union will be one of the most pressing issues of 2012.

The school district still has a full plate going into 2012. First thing on the list according to Hauptman will be the budget.

“We know that we still face declining enrolment and have indications from the Ministry of Education that there will be a reduction in funding protection for the upcoming school year.”

For those interested in the budgeting process a survey is planed for the district’s website to give people more input.

The students of the much more crowded CHSS also have the renovations to their school to look forward to for the rest of the year, which will eventually move on to replacing the roof.

At the end of this school year the current school in Port Edward will be closing its doors, it is going to be replaced and Hauptman says the district is working closely with Port Ed to get their new school built on to their municipal building.