Forging ahead in unison
District 1 retreat addresses accountability issues

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 20/99) - Educators and administrators took an in-depth look at themselves during their annual retreat at the Northern Addiction Services Centre, last weekend.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 stakeholders evaluated the school board's performance and focused in on public school district accountability issues.

"The biggest area we're looking at improving is in the goal setting area. We're setting up an accountability framework which will be used to report back the results we achieve," trustee Dan Schofield said.

He pointed out that a school board is responsible for fiscal management, policy development, approval of program delivery and to set the direction of the education district. Schofield says it's a huge responsibility, which is why a board can lose sight of specific goals.

"We want to be setting goals and chasing them down," said Schofield.

"The retreat showed me that the district and all of its parts are willing to work together. I think we've got everyone moving ahead in a positive and co-operative spirit with the goal of providing the best education we can to our students."

The three broad areas identified for the accountability framework to be developed include: raising and reporting student achievement levels; enhancing partnerships between the district and the community; and better evaluating parent satisfaction.

For the first time, representatives from the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) were invited to attend the retreat, another indication of how the system is opening up.

"We've never been invited so I saw that as an opportunity," N.J. MacPherson PAC chair Deana Twissell said.

"From a PAC point of view, we are often more entrenched with the issues at the individual school we represent. By being part of this retreat, we were able to see some of the issues and challenges faced by other stakeholders system-wide."

Range Lake North school principal, Mike MacDonald, said he left the meeting feeling the district administrators, school administrators and trustees were "all on the same page."

"We came up with some measurable, specific goals in terms of accountability and we all had a say in what those goals were," MacDonald said.

School district No. 1 assistant superintendent, Judith Knapp, was thrilled with the outcome of the retreat.

"For me, I guess it was just affirmation that things are going well and that we're going to move ahead as a team," said Knapp.

"What I appreciated is that everyone came with open minds and willing to participate. It was a great two days."