Earlier in October 2002, the regional school board decided to review its five year old “Strategic Plan”. The board’s mandate was to review the existing “Strategic Plan” as a major goal for the Superintendent. I asked our Director of Programs & Student Services, Archie MacEachern, to take the lead and to ensure we had success. This became one of his objectives over the past fourteen months. Last week the final published document became available. This revised “Strategic Plan” represents some new directives, mainly in the area of student achievement and staff development opportunities. All of our staff, partners, committees, parents and students had ample opportunity to input their ideas and aspirations. The “Strategic Plan” represents our long-term goal and it is important to understand that the interim objectives will be found in our “Business Plan” which outlines the items we wish to achieve on a shorter time agenda. The integration of the “Strategic Plan” and the “Business Plan” allows for all of the planning to come together.
Therefore, we have a vision for our schools, and for our children which will lay out the activities over the next five years to enable us to work towards achieving that vision.
The week of February 8th - 12th was a week set aside sponsored by the Canadian Home and School Federation to encourage parents and the wider community to recognize the important contributions, both personal and professional, of teachers and school staff to the lives of children and their education.
Our schools have dedicated teachers and school staff members such as: secretaries, teacher assistants, bus drivers, custodians, cleaners and other support staff. The Canadian Home and School Federation were firm in their message that these people are appreciated, that they want to work with them and that we are on the same team. The senior staff and elected school board members lent their support and appreciation to our teachers and staff for their constant devotion to our children, schools and our future.
The “Learning For Life” document which underpins the priorities for the Department of Education has an important section on “Safe Schools, Healthy Students”. It is with this sentiment that I would like to introduce the continuing theme of appreciation for staff in specific segments within our workforce.
Students deserve to feel safe and be safe when they go to school. That means having clean schools that are in good repair. It also means feeling safe in a school that provides opportunities for input from staff and children.
The two segments of support services dedicated to this task are the maintenance department and the custodial & cleaning department. The formal duties of these departments are: ongoing cleaning and maintenance, a comprehensive, preventive maintenance program, capital construction & renovations and a valuable link that is needed for further support structure to ensure effective achievement of overall goals. To enhance the guarantee of safe, clean and healthy school sites, we have an extra element that monitors these activities. The Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee plays a significant role at the work sites for our board. [See Attachment “Occupational Health & Safety”]. We are proud of our staff for their dedication to these most important objectives. During my time as part of senior staff, I have known many of these employees. They have maintained the schools and kept them functioning smoothly in the face of impossible odds. I make reference to the myriad of concerns that arise and the subsequent solutions that they create. The past week gave us an example of these situations - when Boularderie School experienced a limited fire emergency. The school was up and running within two school days. This was accomplished by the work of these employees dedicated to having the students back to their instructional places with little time lost. To these employees, schools are more than floor tiles, blackboards and bricks. They realize every school is unique and that each school consists of children who come there day after day throughout the school year. Their pride in their work becomes our pride as elected school board members and senior staff. Again, we salute the maintenance and custodial & cleaning staff for their devotion and concerns to the lives of our children.
On February 2nd, the Board Chair, Superintendent, Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the Warden of Victoria County, along with the African Nova Scotian representative of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, Phil Best, African Nova Scotian Board Member, Sandra Margettie, and the Director of the Black Learners Association, Darren Desmond, met to sign a declaration of intent to celebrate the African Nova Scotia heritage month for February, 2004. The African Nova Scotians continue to make valuable contribution to the rich social and cultural identity of our municipalities. It was a month of great celebrations among our schools and communities. We thank the staff and children for this commitment to these activities and hope that this focused attention for February will continue throughout the year.