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History

Although there are similarities with other school divisions, in many ways Frontier School Division is unlike any other division in Canada. Among the unique characteristics of the Division are its massive geographical expanse, the community based, three-tiered governance system, the communities and people with their diverse cultures, languages and economies, the partnerships developed with First Nations, local and government groups, and the complex and unique funding system. Many of these characteristics, which were evident in 1965, continue to define the Division today.

Formation of Frontier School Division

Frontier School Division was created in 1965 by a Ministerial order under an act of the provincial legislature which provided for the establishment of a “Northern School Division”. The order read in part:

“That a School Division be established on the 8th day of July, 1965, to be styled and known as the Frontier School Division No. 48 comprising

(a) all the lands that may from time to time be included in the following School Districts:

  • The School District of Bad Throat No. 1014

  • The School District of Barrows Junction No. 2296

  • The School District of Berens River No. 2291

  • The School District of Cold Lake No. 2253

  • The School District of Cormorant Lake No. 2129

  • The School District of Cranberry Portage No. 2201

  • The School District of Dallas No. 1970

  • The School District of D.R. Hamilton No. 2310

  • The School District of Gillam No. 2250

  • The School District of Northland No. 2199

  • The School District of Norway House No. 1917

  • The School District of Pikwitonei No. 2231

  • The School District of Rice Creek No. 2185

  • The School District of Sunny Valley No. 2027

  • The School District of Thicket Portage No. 2290

  • And, The School District of Wabowden No. 2181

(b) all the lands bordered in red on the maps attached hereto and in the communities commonly known as:

  • Anama Bay

  • Barrows

  • Big Black River

  • Briggs Spur

  • Brochet

  • Crane River

  • Duck Bay

  • Fisher River

  • God’s Lake Narrows

  • South Indian Lake

  • Wanipigow

  • Warren’s Landing

  • Wekusko

  • Westgate

  • Loon Straits

  • Mallard

  • Matheson Island

  • Moose Lake

  • National Mills

  • Pelican Rapids

  • Pine Dock

  • Princess Harbour

  • Salt Point

  • Golden Acres

  • Homebrook

  • Ilford

  • Island Lake

Dated this 8th day of July, 1965.”

The new northern school division was approximately 170,000 square miles and was spread over two-thirds of the province. The schools and communities which became a part of Frontier School Division were generally north of Township 22 and were either experiencing financial difficulties, were special or joint schools or had been administered by the provincial official trustee. These communities were generally small, relatively isolated and economically poor. By far, the majority of the residents were of aboriginal background.

The mandate of this new school division was to provide education services to Metis and northern students in the designated communities and lands. The education services would be based on the provincial curriculum. Furthermore, access to high school education was to be expanded primarily by the establishment of a new high school in Cranberry Portage which provided room and board facilities for students from many different northern communities.

Governance System

An Official Trustee, empowered with all the rights, authority and responsibility of a school board was appointed by the provincial government to administer the Division.

In 1965, the Official Trustee established an advisory body, the Central Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC was composed of a mixture of community representatives and civil servants all of whom were selected by Division personnel. Local school committees were appointed in some communities from names suggested by the principals. The local committees, like the CAC, were advisory bodies only. By 1971, local school committees were more established and all members were generally elected.

In 1976, the Official Trustee of the time established a new advisory committee structure with local school committees elected in each community, area advisory committees in each of the five areas of the Division, and the CAC which now had two representatives elected from each area committee. Members of all committees were now elected community representatives. The responsibilities of each of these committees were expanded and formalized in constitutions and terms of reference and, from 1976 to 1985, committees operated within this framework. The CAC increasingly functioned more as a school board and less as an advisory committee to the Official Trustee. No major decisions took place without the active involvement of community members.

In 1985, the functioning structure and governance of the Division changed significantly. The CAC assumed the role of a school board although the Official Trustee continued to be the nominal head of the Division until provincial legislation was passed in 1991 establishing the Frontier School Division Board of Trustees and recognizing the local school committees and area committees. While an Official Trustee remained in place during this period of time, it should be noted that the chair of the CAC/Board rather than an employee of the Division or provincial government was now the Official Trustee of the Division.

In addition to formally establishing a school board in Frontier School Division, in 1991 the provincial legislation also established the unique three-tiered governance structure with local school committees and area committees’ responsibilities now legally recognized. The legislation enabled school committees to now have real authority and responsibility.

Like other school boards in the province, membership on a Frontier School Division Board, Area Advisory Committee and School Committee is for a term of four years. However, unlike other school boards, in order for a community member to become a trustee on the Frontier Board of Trustees, he/she would have to take part in three separate elections. First, a community member would have to be elected to the local school committee, then elected by that committee to serve on the Area Advisory Committee, then elected as one of the two trustees from that area to the Frontier School Board of Trustees.

The legislation passed in 1991 allowed for the election of approximately 217 elected or appointed school committee members in Frontier School Division. These local school committees elect 49 Area Advisory Committee members to five Area Advisory Committees. The five Area Advisory Committees each elect two trustees to the Frontier School Board of Trustees.

Operation

On August 22, 1965, Frontier School Division welcomed 2,346 students to its 43 schools, including 150 at the new high school, Frontier Collegiate Institute. In the first year, the Division employed 108 teachers and a total staff of 179 although that number is somewhat misleading in that casual employees were not identified as employees and no records on these employees were maintained during the first years of operation.

The new school division was not required to establish an operating budget during the formative years. The first recorded budget was established for the 1968 operational year. By this time, the division had closed several small schools with declining enrollment, consolidated other schools and constructed new schools. The Division consisted of 35 schools, had an enrollment of 3,697 students (an increase of 58%), employed 172 teachers and had a total staff of 294, with an annual budget of $3,439,000.

As the first decade of operation came to a close in 1975, the image of the Division had changed dramatically. The Division had, during the first ten years, set in place effective systems of operation and construction of modern new facilities. Enrolment increased to 5,248 and the staff complement rose to 506, including 296 teachers. The Division’s operating budget was set at $11,457,000.

By 1985, enrollment had increased to 5,788 in 35 schools. The Division employed 685 staff, including 396 teachers. The total operating budget was $31,790,000.

Frontier School Division entered its twenty-fifth year in 1990 with a budget of $44,979,000, a staff of 1,007, including 416 teachers; pupil enrollment of 5,662; and 38 schools operating in 35 communities. A decade later, in 2000, the operational budget was $56,000,000 and Frontier had a staff of 890, including 315 teachers, and 575 support staff, a pupil enrolment of 5,442 and 34 schools in 32 communities.

Forty-four years after the Division was formed, the operational budget was $103,000,000 with an educational staff of 475 teachers and 905 support staff providing services to 5,813 students in 41 schools in 39 communities.

Educational Programs

As noted previously, the original mandate of Frontier School Division was to provide educational services to Metis and northern students in a designated area that were based on the provincial curriculum. The Manitoba curriculum continues to be followed in all Division schools although Frontier has adapted, modified and supplemented it to ensure that programs are relevant to the needs of Frontier students. Over the years, the programs and services offered to northern students has expanded greatly with the development of many unique and award-winning programs. Some of these programs are Native Studies, Career Education, Fine Arts, Character Education and First Nations Languages.

Frontier School Division now has a strategic educational plan, “Charting the Future”. This document provides a mandated and broad framework for schools by outlining the key strategic goals of the Division. Through this plan, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Native Studies and Character Education are mandated and a variety of programs, including Fine Arts, Adult Education, and Work Education supplement the mandated programs.

Access to high school education has also expanded greatly. In addition to the high school established in 1965 at Cranberry Portage, there are now 12 high schools that graduate students in the Division. Students also have access to a home placement program operated by the Division.

Communities and Facilities

The geographical scope of the original mandate has also expanded over the years. The Division continues to serve northern and remote communities but now includes children in central Manitoba and in unorganized territory, as well as many First Nation communities and several formerly independent school districts. Students continue to be of primarily First Nation or Metis descent although in some communities the majority of the students are non-aboriginal.

There are presently 13 First Nation communities in which Frontier School Division provides educational services. “Educational Agreements” with each First Nation define these services which are provided to approximately 50% of the students in Frontier School Division.

Wherever Frontier schools are located, they are similar in appearance to schools elsewhere in the province. The schools are located in well-equipped, modern buildings with all the necessary materials and resources.

Conclusion

When Frontier School Division was formed in 1965, it was a large, unique and complex school division. Today, in 2009, the Division may be described in the same way. No other school division in the province has the distinct characteristics of Frontier School Division. These characteristics provide the Division with many challenges and, at the same time, many opportunities. Some of these distinct characteristics include the Division’s vast geography, its community-based and three-tiered governance system, the diverse communities and people, the unique partnerships with First Nations and other groups and the Division’s complex financial system.

Frontier School Division is vast and spans approximately 75% of the land mass of the province of Manitoba. This vastness provides many rich opportunities for students, including access to a wide variety of outdoor educational activities, travel to new and sometimes remote parts of the province, and participation in school events such as Frontier Games.

Frontier’s governance system provides a real voice at the grassroots level. Parents, community members and local leaders have the opportunity for their voices to be heard by the Division through local and area committees and the Board of Trustees.

The diverse communities that comprise Frontier School Division are one of its strengths. Cultural activities and programs reflecting this diversity enhance students’ knowledge and awareness of their own and other cultures.

Formal partnerships within the Division involve First Nation communities and organizations such as Manitoba Hydro. Elected Chiefs and Councils, organizational leaders, and the Division all work together as partners in the education of our students. As well, the Division continues to work positively and proactively with the provincial and federal governments on behalf of all students within the Division.

The Division’s complex financial system involves components beyond those found in most school systems across Canada. The Division’s system includes funding from provincial grants, local taxation, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, First Nations, and organizations such as Manitoba Hydro. Staff members work closely and cooperatively with all partners who contribute to and participate in the Division’s financial system.

These unique characteristics have defined the Division since its formation in 1965. Although they have provided many challenges, the response to these challenges has shaped the Division into the innovative and dynamic leader in education which it has been throughout its history. The students of the Division have benefitted and will continue to benefit from the uniqueness of Frontier School Division.

 

 Policy Manual

 
 Introduction
 Section A - Foundations
 Section B Governance
 Section C Administration
 Section D Business Administration
 Section E Personnel
 Section F Instruction
 Section G Students