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January 21, 2010
Edmonton… An Official Trustee has been appointed to the Northland School Division by the Alberta Government as an interim measure to address concerns over student achievement results across the jurisdiction.“My number one priority is that students are successful in school, so I’m taking action now to ensure positive changes occur for students today and in the future,” said Dave Hancock, Minister of Education. “My goal is to help set the stage for new beginnings to build a more effective learning environment.”
Dr. Colin Kelly has been appointed Official Trustee and will have all the powers of an elected Board of Trustees in operating the School Division.  Effective immediately, the 23-member Board of Trustees for Northland School Division will cease to hold office, although they will remain as chairs of their local school board committees.
Under Section 42 of the School Act, the Minister of Education has the authority to appoint an Official Trustee when he considers it is in the public’s best interests.  Hancock concluded there is ample evidence indicating the Board and the jurisdiction are not functioning at a satisfactory level and showing no signs of improvement in the near future. In making this decision, Hancock noted concerns over student performance, achievement and high school completion as well an ongoing trend of high teacher and administrator turnover in the division as primary reasons for the action.
“I have given this course of action careful and serious consideration, and am disappointed at having to enforce this section of the School Act,” added Hancock. “The bottom line is that the education of students is suffering and we can’t risk losing a generation of young people.”
The Minister has also appointed a three-member inquiry team under Section 41of the School Act to study the operations of the Northland School Division.  The members of the inquiry team are: Dr. David van Tamelen, former Secretary-Treasurer and Superintendent of Schools, Peace River School Division; Nathan Matthew, B.C. First Nations Representative on the Education Advisory Council to B.C.’s Minister of Education; and Keith Wagner, former Deputy Superintendent (Curriculum) with Grande Prairie School District.
Official Trustee appointed to Northland School Division
The inquiry team will focus on student achievement, governance, and instructional and administrative leadership of the division. The team will take up to six months to complete its work and will provide their recommendations in a final report to the Minister. The review process will be consultative and collaborative involving local school committee members, school division staff, administration, teachers, parents, students and the local community.
“I believe the inquiry team can thoroughly and objectively examine all the presenting issues in Northland, but we must recognize that we do not have all the answers,” said Hancock. “The feedback and advice that we receive from community, staff and student participants in this important process is fundamental to making true transformative change in the division. We must come together to focus first and foremost on the interests of students.”
Role and biography of the Official Trustee
Role and biographies of the Inquiry Team
Overview of Northland School Division
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