Education Minister visits Prince Albert school divisions

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post. Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill answers questions from the press after Question Period at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Thursday, October 12, 2023 in Regina.

Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill was in Prince Albert on Monday to meet with both the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and Prince Albert Catholic School Division.

The Minister and Saskatchewan Rivers both said their meetings were productive. The divisions had planned the meeting months in advance, and it was not connected to the one-day strike by members of the STF on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan Rivers Director of education Neil Finch said that they were able to have a great conversation with the Minister.

“He had a visit to Riverside School which was a fantastic visit and we were able to have a great conversation with him,” Finch said. “(We) just appreciate him spending the time and getting to know a little bit about Sask Rivers School Division.”

The division had planned to take Cockrill to Riverside because of the way the school innovates.

“Riverside was a great location to go to,” Finch said. “They’re doing lots of lots of innovative things for our students, and it was nice for the Minister to see that.”

While talking to reporters in Regina at the Legislature on Tuesday about the one-day strike by Saskatchewan teachers, Cockrill addressed his visit to Prince Albert. He used the school visits as a way to address the importance of local autonomy.

“I’d say we had some fairly productive conversations around how we continue to help resource those school divisions to manage the needs that they see in the classroom,” he explained.

“Certainly from the school division/government perspective, I would say there’s a productive relationship that’s growing and I think an opportunity (for) working through that avenue to really help support students going forward in the province.”

Cockrill said that there are challenges in classrooms as he has seen in his visits around the province to places like Creighton and Prince Albert in recent weeks.

“I’ve seen that we have students with a wider range of needs probably than ever before,” he said. “We also have more students in K to 12 education Saskatchewan has never seen before. I mean, our province is growing at a rate faster than it has in over 100 years.

“These are challenges, but these are good challenges and I think school divisions are identifying for me opportunities where we can add supports to support those students.”

Prince Albert Catholic School Division director of education Lorel Trumier was not available for an interview on Tuesday.