As we prepare to say goodbye to 2016, BattlefordsNow.com is taking a look at some of the top news items that made headlines and newsmakers over the past 12 months.
The month of March was certainly an interesting one if you were a fan of politics.
With the provincial election over a month away, there was no shortage of announcements and political gesturing.
When the nomination deadline passed, both Meadow Lake and the Battlefords had three opponents trying to unseat the Saskatchewan Party incumbent. In the Battlefords, veteran Herb Cox would face NDP nominee Rob Feist, Liberal Dexter Gopher and newcomer Josh Hunt of the Green Party on the ballot. In Meadow Lake, Jeremy Harrison was seeking his third term and was being challenged by Dwayne Lucas of the NDP, Liberal Eric McCrimmon, and the Green Party Eric Schalm. The main issues in the region on the campaign trail were jobs, the environment and government spending. Voters would go to the polls on April 4.
Education has always been a hot topic in the region and in March that was the case again with many programs being announced and initiatives being created.
The North West School Division launched an attendance matters campaign, aimed at getting students in the classroom. Superintendent Terry Craig says they are using social media as the main driver. Director of Education Duane Hauk added schools in the division aren’t having an attendance issue; rather they just want to stress the importance of consistently being in class. The initiative is aimed at all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. It states students who miss 2-3 days a month end up losing a whole month of the education year.
Meanwhile, schools were not the only service to have attendance problems.
Appointment no-shows are a consistent problem for health facilities, with some in the North West reporting up to 10 per cent of patients not showing up for booked times.
Vicki Smart with the Prairie North Health Region says over the past three years there have been efforts to reduce those numbers at facilities across the region. Smart says people forgetting actually represents a small portion of the appointments missed, patients unable to get transportation, especially from First Nations, represents a much larger percentage.
A new partnership between the two Battlefords area school divisions and community organizations aimed to offer support for students before harm comes to them or others.
The Living Sky and Light of Christ school divisions created the Violence Threat Risk Assessment protocol. Under the protocol, school staff would be able to assess how a student is acting compared to a baseline and then use the partners to come up with a way to prevent a serious incident from occurring.
Superintendent of Learning for Light of Christ Kelvin Colliar said the divisions want to become more proactive instead of waiting for something to happen.
Colliar also adds they have learned one single event doesn't usually cause a violent incident in a school; it's a pattern of events that staffs need to be able to recognize.
There was good news for the North West School Division. It received approval to construct two new portable classrooms at schools in Pierceland and Lashburn. The Ministry of Education said each unit can cost up to $400,000 and NWSD Chief Financial Officer Charlie McCloud added anything over that will be the responsibility of the school board. McCloud said construction will ideally start this summer to replace the current portable classroom in Pierceland, while the division combats growth in Lashburn by building a new unit altogether.
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