Categorized | News

Livingstone Range plans to attract, retain students

darryl seguin

Darryl Seguin

gr davis school

GR Davis

Livingstone Range School Division is addressing declining enrollment.
Trustees last week approved a plan for student engagement and retainment.
“We really want to focus on two areas,” superintendent Darryl Seguin said. “Attracting new students and retaining the ones that we have.”
Seguin made a presentation on student engagement to the school board at the Jan. 9 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building in Fort Macleod.
About 200 students living in Livingstone Range boundaries leave the jurisdiction to attend faith-based programs in Lethbridge, Coalhurst, Monarch and High River.
Another 80 to 100 students access home education programs outside of Livingstone Range.
“Many students who are leaving our boundaries are getting their education with faith-based providers,” Seguin told trustees. “They most likely have not ever attended school in Livingstone Range.”
Seguin said Livingstone Range wants to send a message to those students and their families.
“We’d like to let these students and families know we are very interested in providing quality education for them right here in Livingstone Range School Division and that there’s no need for them to leave the jurisdiction to get the type of education that they want.”
Those students are accessing programs through providers across Alberta.
School divisions have adapted to the growing demand for home education, with some jurisdictions now serving more students that way than in actual classrooms.
“Livingstone Range has a long and successful history in being sensitive to cultural and religious backgrounds,” Seguin said.
That includes working with Hutterite, Mennonite and First Nations families and others.
“We believe that we can successfully meet the cultural and religious needs of those currently leaving our school division boundaries,” Seguin said.
Seguin said there are benefits to receiving your education in your home community, including reduced time on school buses and certificated staff in all subject areas.
Livingstone Range is in a good position to attract more home school students with the appointment of Jackie Kark as home education principal in the fall.
“She is able to work with families to deliver quality home education programs that are either parent-led or teacher-led.”
Livingstone Range is also in position to increase staff time for home school students or hire more staff if the need is there.
Livingstone Range has 14 parent-led and 21 teacher-led home school programs at present. The school division had projected serving 17 students this year.
“I believe we are poised for more growth and parents will very quickly see that we can do a good job of meeting their needs,” Seguin said.
Seguin said retaining students is a priority and that while Livingstone Range provides good service, it needs to ensure it stays current with changing student interests.
Livingstone Range has adapted innovative programs such as the ski academy at Livingstone school in Lundbreck, experiential learning at Matthew Halton school in Pincher Creek and mountain biking and outdoor pursuits at Crowsnest Pass.
Self-directed learning and flexible time tables are being considered in Nanton, and some schools have round tables to hear from students about their needs.
A draft exit interview has been created for when students leave Livingstone Range schools.
“It will help us understand if we are not meeting student needs, or if families are leaving the area for work or other reasons,” Seguin said.
Trustees approved a schedule of activities proposed by Seguin for student engagement.
Those activities include community meetings with parents of home school students and visits to other jurisdictions and schools to view their innovative practices.
Trustees will be asked in April to make decisions on recommendations to engage and retain students to have steps in place for the 2019-’20 school year.