Prairie South School Division held their monthly board meeting on February 6th. 

Voices to Encourage Change (VTEC) students from Grade 12 started off the board meeting with a presentation. 

Four key focus areas were presented to the board last year, and students updated board meeting attendees on these areas, including 1) creating career-based opportunities, 2) promoting different ways of assessing students, 3) making programs known to students, and 4) educating students on mental health supports available.  

Board trustee Crystal Froese thanked the students for their presentation. “It’s great to see that the things that you brought before us have caused a change within our organization, which is the entire point. [It’s] is really really positive to see that.” 

One VTEC student gave feedback on available mental health supports at school. “It’s nice to see that teachers are finally taking initiative in saying ‘we have these resources that we can provide to you, and if you’re really struggling, we can bring in someone who can help you talk through these issues’. That’s what I had happen to me, and I am very thankful for it.” 

“I saw that really improve over the year, and it was very nice to see that students were finally getting the help that they need,” the student added. 

Another student pointed to the increased availability of different resources including posters and bulletin boards with information about mental health resources.  

Todd Johnson, transportation manager with Prairie South School Division, presented the Transporation and Accountability Report for the 2022-2023 school year.  

The year saw 106 bus routes with 2,765 students being transported daily. 

The department has 146 drivers, 2 office staff, and 8 mechanics. Fourteen bus drivers in Moose Jaw had double routes, possible due to staggered school times.  

Average ride times for urban students last school year was 14 minutes, and for rural students was 34 minutes. There were some increases in time spent on the bus from previous years.  

“Last year we had an increase of students. With the increase of ridership, sometimes there’s an increase in ride times,” explained Johnson.  

Nineteen accidents with PSSD buses were logged during the 2022-2023 school year. Another person was at fault in two instances, there was an animal strike in five cases, a bus struck another vehicle in six instances, and a bus struck a fixed object in six instances. 

Robert Bachmann, board trustee, asked if Johnson could comment on both expenses for maintaining and purchasing going up. There was $7,454,323 in expenses for 2022-2023, which represented a $720,698 increase over the previous school year. Bus purchases also increased from $1,110,253 to $1,318,615 – a $208,362 increase. 

“Just like everyone’s personal life - everything went up. Parts have gone up, shipping the parts has gone up, fuel has gone up,” explained Johnson.  

He added that the cost of buses has also gone up, and that they expect them to continue increasing in price. “They’ve substantially increased every year, and we don’t expect that slowing down any time soon.” 

An amendment was made to the Preventative Maintenance Renewal Plan, which was presented by facilities manager Darren Baiton. 

The board approved the change, which moves the installation of two cameras at Central Collegiate and Assiniboia Elementary School to a future year, instead installing two cameras at Central Butte School and Coronach School this year. Each camera is worth around $25,000. 

Baiton explained the reason for the shuffle. “Central Collegiate and Assiniboia currently have cameras, so it was just going to be an upgrade, where the other two schools don’t have any at this point.” 

Dustin Swanson, superintendent of operations with Prairie South School Division, added that other rural schools do not have cameras, but they are looking to install cameras at 2-3 schools per year. 

The Monthly Tender Report for January was then presented by Ron Purdy, chief financial officer with Prairie South School Division. 

Bids awarded included a $23,573.59 projector for the Central Collegiate gymnasium, given to Inland Audio Visual, an order of school Chromebooks that was missed on an October group order for $23,195.26 awarded to GenX, and camera and data cabling upgrades awarded to Pro-Tec Electric in December for $20,000 in Assiniboia, $15,250 in Bengough, and $16,500 in Coronach. 

Information was also provided to the board on the Remind App, which helps communication between teachers, schools, students, and families. Communication includes reminders on forms that need to be filled out for field trips, dress up days, or messaging sports teams about upcoming events.