Prairie South approves final PAA project funds

Nathan Liewicki
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Trustee Lew Young makes a point during a discussion about the Practical and Applied Arts Enhancement Project during Tuesday's Prairie South School Division board meeting. 

Practical and Applied Arts to receive $608,916 over next two school years

The Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) Enhancement project generated quite the discussion during Tuesday’s Prairie South School Division (PSSD) board meeting.

The Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) Enhancement project generated quite the discussion during Tuesday’s Prairie South School Division (PSSD) board meeting.

As of June 2013, the PAA budget had been approved and expensed for $586,175.

On Tuesday, the board voted on whether or not to approve the final $608,916 from restricted surplus funds to complete the final two years of the PAA project. If passed, the total cost of the PAA project would ring in at $1,195,091, which would leave $1,459,909 in the restricted surplus.

Trustee Brian Swanson was all for providing the final funds for the project, as long as it would not come out of the restricted surplus.

“We will need these surplus funds in the future,” Swanson told the board. “I would be the first to put my hand up and support all of this if it was coming from the programming budget, and I would be the first to offer up ideas on where we could reallocate resources from our operating budget to fund this program.”

While it’s presently not an issue, Swanson believes future questions about where the restricted surplus funds went will arise.

He also questioned where the funds to support the project would come from following the project’s final year: 2015-16.

“Whether you do it this year, or you do it in two years there will be a requirement to move a large part of these programs to the operating budget – where I think it should be,” said Swanson.

Trustee Lew Young said he was encouraged by the project, noting it should be up there with the division’s strategic plans.

“I appreciate what is being done with this project and what will be continually done with it,” said Young.

Barbara Compton, a superintendent of school operations for PSSD told the Times-Herald the board’s goal is to keep the program sustainable, so there are not a lot of costs associated with it down the road.

“We want to do the work right so that it’s not costing us forever,” said Compton.

One of the project’s goals is to provide Grades 10, 11 and 12 students an opportunity to acquire a minimum of six credits in PAA courses, regardless of school location or size.

Some of the classes currently under development are Energy and Mines 30, Cosmetology 20 and Introduction to Power Engineering.

A locally developed option, the power engineering class would see the division partner with SaskPower and the Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan.

A pilot program is scheduled to begin in September in Coronach.

“Coronach was selected because there is a huge work component that goes along with (the class),” said Compton. “Students need steam time and SaskPower has committed to open their doors 12 months of the year, 24 hours a day for students to get the steam time if they want to challenge the certification part.”

Compton noted that students who enroll in the power engineering course will receive two high school credits, gain valuable work experience and be able to challenge for their Level 5 power engineering certificate.

The ability to connect high school students with employment opportunities is an element found in another of the project’s goals.

As such, the division is expected to partner with the likes of the Ministry of Agriculture, SaskTel and the Saskatchewan Safety Council. These are just three examples of organizations PSSD plans to inform students of possible career pathways beginning later this spring.

“Our focus this year is to make sure the course that we are offering align with labour market demands,” Compton said. “We are trying to meet with industry and business, to ask what they need and make sure our courses align with them so that there is opportunity for post-secondary and employment.”

In the end, the board voted in favour of approving the remaining $608,916 from restricted surplus funds to cover the cost associated with the final two years of the PAA project.

Board members who opposed the decision were Swanson and fellow Moose Jaw-based trustee Jan Radwanski, who was uncomfortable committing funds to the project until seeing the numbers in next month’s provincial budget.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Prairie South School Division, SaskPower, Times-Herald Power Engineering Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Saskatchewan Safety Council

Geographic location: Coronach

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