PALLISER – 21 recommendations presented to board

4 Nov 2016

Lethbridge Herald

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Citing a “culture and climate that is not psychologically healthy for employees,” an organizational review of Palliser Regional Schools has come back with 21 recommendations to improve the division.

Herald photo by Ian Martens Palliser Regional Schools board chair Robert Strauss, flanked by acting superintendent Garry Andrews and alternate vice-chair Craig Whitehead, speaks during a special meeting after the release of an organizational review Thursday at the division offices. @IMartensHeraldA special meeting held Thursday by the PRS Board of Trustees to hear the results of the review was attended by a full house of concerned parents and former employees of the division.

Robert Strauss, PRS board chair, said because the board received the recommendations at the same time the public did, it would now be looking deeper into the review in order to see where changes to the division could be made.

“The board is going to treat this report with the utmost seriousness,” he said. “We’ll spend the requisite amount of time to review the documents in great detail.”

The panel gathered information from stakeholders in the division that included a survey of the psychological safety climate within PRS; semistructured interviews with current and former employees, trustees and other stakeholders; documentary submissions from stakeholders; and data and documents requested from PRS. Recommendations included the division creating a plan to deal with aggression and fear in the workplace felt by many employees; clarifying the roles of the board and superintendent; identify and deal with a lack of trust of the board; the board must take ownership of the superintendent evaluation process; manage concerns with procedural fairness; develop a transparent conflict resolution process; improve communication at all levels of the division; develop an off-duty conduct policy; transparency in their electronic monitoring policy; develop a policy that clarifies when alcohol should and should not be purchased; and to develop a communications policy in order to keep the public informed.

As the full review is more than 200 pages long, Strauss could not give a timeline on any decisions that might come out of it.

“We will take as much time as we need to do a thorough job and do it right,” he said, adding it would be unlikely the review would be dealt with in the next board meeting.

“During the course of upcoming weeks and months, we’ll have an opportunity to address this report.”

He said the division has many positive traits, and the board will look at the recommendations as an opportunity to improve areas that are lacking.

“We also heard today this division has a lot of positives in it,” he said. “We have a lot of things we need to look at for improvement. And we welcome that challenge.”

Strauss described the division as a partnership between staff, parents and students, and said the board welcomes the opportunity to work with those groups.

“I was very appreciative for the interest that the parents and the public have shown,” he said.

“This is part of our commitment to work with the people in our system, and to work with the public to create a better system. It’s my intent to work with the stakeholders to ensure we do get better.”

The executive summary is available online at