Classrooms are slowly becoming more inclusive in Central Alberta.
Red Deer Public Schools received $250,000 as part of the $12 million allocated by Alberta Education to help school divisions make the move based on the extensive Action on Inclusion directive.
According to Alberta Education, an inclusive education system is one where there are appropriate education settings for every student to find success.
Funding was set aside in the last provincial budget and allocated late this summer.
Jodi Goodrick, assistant superintendent, student services, said the eight boards in Zone 4, which encompass Central Alberta, are working together to make the move seamless and to draw on each division’s strengths.
However, she said, the move won’t happen overnight and the typical classroom is not for every student.
“This is very good starting point but we do have to approach it with common sense,” said Goodrick.
The division continues to offer options, including a Foundations and Pathways programs for students with exceptional needs. The division also works with Parkland School, a special needs school in Red Deer.
“We try to provide the best programming and being open to all the options that are available for all our students and families,” said Goodrick. “It’s important that we work together and look at the unique needs of individuals and their families.”
The extra funding allowed the district to hire a student services consultant to work with teachers to help tweak programming to meet the needs of students and a part-time teacher to help with assistive technology. The remainder of the funding will be used for professional development and technology.
The other Central Alberta school divisions were allocated funding for professional development, to hire teachers or purchase equipment. Chinook’s Edge received $185,354 to spread across its 40 schools in the province’s largest rural jurisdiction.
Like Goodrick, Wanda Christensen, Chinook’s Edge associate superintendent, student services, said her division has made strides but there is still a lot of work ahead for teachers and schools.
“Do we have it completely mapped out and implemented?” she said. “Absolutely not. Every school is at a different place.”
Christensen said part of the funding will be used to purchase books, technology and for professional development.
“We are also having some discussion around assistive technology,” said Christensen. “And how to develop a strategy that would ensure that all of our students have access to the technology that we need to personalize their learning.”
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools received $113,000. Part of the funding will be allocated to hire two teachers — a literacy and inclusive education teacher and an educational technology and assistive technology teacher. Both teachers will be hired within the district and are expected to be in place by Oct.15 for the year-long positions. The remainder of the funding will go toward professional development for teachers and educational assistants in the schools.
Wolf Creek Public Schools received $120,000.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate