It is my honor this evening, as Acting Superintendent, to present the following report to the Board.
Let me begin by bringing you greetings from Superintendent Davis. I recently spoke with him and I can report that he is recovering nicely and is in excellent spirits.
Madame Chair, in all of our schools, everyday, through our curriculum, our staff encourages a sense of appreciation for the diversity of our community. Our staff takes every opportunity to celebrate the contributions of all of the cultures which make up our community. In October, our province celebrates Mi’Kmaq Heritage month and schools throughout our Board carry out many activities to celebrate Mi’kmaq Heritage Month.
On October 14th, 2004, the Board and senior staff had the opportunity to present their views on the Funding Formula to Mr. William Hogg. Mr. Hogg has been charged with the task of presenting a report to government by the end of November on what a new Funding Formula should look like. Through three and a half hours, the Board presented our funding challenges in the areas of: Human Resources, Finance, Operations & Programs and Student Services. In summary, it was noted that any Funding Formula should be based on the following principles. It should be Equitable to all. It should be Responsive and consider the unique characteristics and challenges of each Board. It should be Understandable with funding components which are clear and comprehensive. The formula should be Transparent and consistently applied with all funds generated through the formula. It should be Defensible and provide a reasonable response to service requirements and it should promote Accountability between the Board and Province, Board and its stakeholders and between Board and staff.
Madame Chair, over the last year or so, Superintendent Davis began the practice of reserving a part of his report to focus on a certain segment of our staff, such as Secretaries, Teacher Assistants, Principals, etc. This evening, because it is the last meeting of the Board, I would like to take a few moments to focus on some of the events, challenges and achievements of this Board.
In the area of Board Finance and in response to a continual enrollment decline which has seen the student enrollment drop by 2,555 students during the Board’s term (2000 - 2004), the Board formulated and implemented a ‘Transition Plan’ to stabilize and strengthen the Board’s financial position. Other actions in the area of finance include:
In the area of Human Resources, new policies were enacted in the areas of: Respectful Learning & Working Environments, Conflict of Interest, Reference Checks for volunteers and new employees, Employment Equity, Secondments & Leave of Absences, Principal Evaluation, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Legislation.
At a time when greater numbers of our school administrators are retiring, a new Professional Development program for Aspiring Administrators was developed and successfully implemented. During this time we have seen all of our Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union postings and the collection of student enrollment data move to an on-line setup. During this period, one hundred and forty-six (146) teachers were awarded probationary or permanent contracts including an increase in the compliment of African Nova Scotia and Mi’Kmaq teachers.
In the area of operational services, two new schools: Brookland and Shipyard were opened and planning has begun on a new junior high school in Glace Bay, a new P - 9 school on the Northside and a new P - 12 facility in Iona. In addition, major renovations are in place for Sydney Academy and Riverview. Other actions of note in the area of operational services include:
In the area of Programs and Student Services, the Board has been able to, despite the challenges of funding and enrollment decline, increase the number of staff supporting students in the following areas: Reading Recovery, School Psychologists, Educational Assessors, Special Classes (increase of 11), Resource Teachers (increase of 11), ESL, Learning Strategies, Learning Disabilities, Student Support Workers and Technical Support. Again, despite declining resources, the Board has been able to maintain staffing and services in the important areas of: Fine Arts, Physical Education, Guidance and Vocational Education
Other actions of note in the area of Programs & Student Services include:
Provincially, this Board took a leadership role in the development and implementation of the ‘Lead and Achieve’ project. Finally, the Board was able to adopt a new “Strategic Plan’ for the Board - one which will guide the activities of all staff in the coming years in support of our students.
Madame Chair, I have, of course, not been able to cover everything and I’m sure I have omitted some achievements; however, what I have outlined does attest to the fact that this Board has discharged their important responsibilities on behalf of their students in a very caring, professional and competent manner. On behalf of the students, staff and public you served so well, I say thank you. To our retiring members: Commissioners Adrian Bates, Philip Best, Bernd Christmas, Elizabeth MacPhee, Pam Nicholson & Wes Stubbert, on behalf of the students, staff and parents of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, I wish you good health and happiness.
Finally, Madame Chair, I direct your attention to the reports provided by our school principals with respect to the important activities and achievements of our students throughout the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.
Respectfully Submitted: Archie MacEachern, Acting Superintendent