Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board


Board Meeting

Monday - April 25, 2005

It is always a pleasure to announce good news for our regional board.  I am happy to report that the Negotiating Committee have been successful in obtaining a contract agreement with our C.U.P.E. workers. The most important thing is that our schools will reopen.   Students will have access to their schools and to personal attention from their teachers.  The Board holds dearly their responsibility to instruct and service our community children.  We will endeavor to make the transition back to the classroom as smooth as possible.  We have been successful in bringing the schools back to a safe and clean condition to accommodate our students.    We will experience some set backs to our busing program but with the co-operation from parents, guardians and students, we will be working towards the excellent service that you have been used to in the past.

We also welcome back our C.U.P.E. workers.  Their service to us is invaluable.  Your recent strike does not diminish our respect and confidence we have in your ability to perform those tasks that are so necessary to assist us in serving our children=s return to our safe and healthy school sites.  Part of the strength of our regional board is that we can depend on our staff to do what has to be done for our children.  The members of our Administrative Staff, Directors, Co-ordinators, N.S.T.U. staff and our Confidential staff have all contributed to the mission to service our children even when the children were not physically able to go to school.  The Board was steadfast in its desire to obtain a signed agreement with C.U.P.E.  We now must focus on the students for the remainder of this school year and work towards making up the time we missed and the instruction that will enable each child to complete a successful year.

The School Board passed a motion that the new Northside school would be built on the site announced by the Minister of Education.  

The school will accommodate the students from St. Mary=s, St. Joseph=s (North Sydney), and Thompson Jr. High School.  The estimated cost of the school is ten million dollars, the Grade configuration is P - 9 and the date line for opening is December, 2007.  The pre-architectural program and service committee will be created and plans will be underway.  At the same time, the Board will be creating a business plan for the construction of an addition to St. Joseph=s, Sydney Mines, to accommodate the Sydney Mines Jr. High students.  The estimated money available will be four million dollars.  Along with these two projects,  is the intention of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to address the unused instructional space at Dr. T.L. Sullivan to house the French Immersion students from the Northside areas of Sydney Mines, North Sydney, Victoria County and the former Cape Breton County feeder schools.  Cecil Clarke reported to the Board on his meeting with Sydney Mines and area people and certainly lent support to the Board in finalizing their direction for school construction on the Northside area of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

 Department of Education officials have announced that a site on Highland Street has been chosen for the new Glace Bay Jr. High School.  The site, next to the Queen Elizabeth Park, was one of three submitted by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for review by the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation and Public Works, which will manage the construction project.

 The Department of Transportation and Public Works selected the Highland Street and Phalen Road sites for further assessment after evaluating all three sites according to standard criteria.  

 Highland Road has been recommended subject to more information being gathered on environmental issues, possible subsidence from old mines, traffic and cost.  No major obstacles are anticipated.  In accepting the recommendation, Education Minister, Jamie Muir, thanked the Board and community volunteers for their contribution to the selection process.

 AIt=s been a pleasure working with them,@ said Mr. Muir.  ATheir dedication to this project has been invaluable.@  The cost of the seven hundred student school is estimated at 11.9 million dollars.  Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2006 and the opening is targeted for December, 2007.

 Madame Chair, most of my time has been spent in keeping the Board and the different publics aware of our daily activities during these trying times.  However, I wish to continue my theme portion of my report and would direct your attention to the plight of the deprived child.

The national statistics on child abuse are frightening as they are dramatic and tragic.  There is probably nothing sadder than finding evidence of physical mistreatment of children.  The scars of such experiences are more than physical, and can last a lifetime.  Yet, a more widespread problem that educators encounter is neglect - even benign neglect - of boys and girls.

How does such neglect occur?  As strange as it may seem, the very affluence which prevails in our society can often help to encourage neglect.  Many children are well-fed and well-housed yet still suffer neglect.  They often lack for nothing in terms of material goods and entertainment.  But they may lack the care and the presence of one or both parents.

This does not mean that single-parent households make for either neglect or indulgence.  It does suggest, however, that when both parents hold full-time jobs or for other reasons cannot be readily available to guide and care for children, allowances need to be made.  Giving children things is never a substitute for family love, family rules and family customs, all of which provide security and responsibility for children.  Some of our most economically deprived homes provide these gifts in full measure.

Without even realizing it, we can become apathetic about children.  We can fail to provide a strong, caring and consistent model for children as they grow and develop.  Your schools work hard with individual children and their parents to provide meaning and purpose to children=s work and activities.  However, the schools are always a poor substitute for parents.  The values students learn at home are the ones that stick.

The sad fact is that too many children are deprived of the love, security and care that they need and deserve.  There are no easy solutions to this problem.  However, parents might find it helpful to remember the following points when evaluating their role in their child=s development.

First, parents need to understand and act upon children=s need for love, touch and support, just as they realize their need for food and clothing.  Yet, expressing love does not mean foregoing discipline or limits on behavior.  Without doubt, parents need to know where their children are.

Second, Awants@ are not the same as Aneeds@, regardless of what the ads tell us.  Unfortunately, it=s too easy to give a young child a treat to encourage him or her to go away.  The treat gets larger and more expensive - and the habit becomes harder to break as time goes by.

Third, the teachings and standards of parents always are more significant to the child than those of the school.  The parent model is basic, whether it be in speech, a sense of honesty, or common courtesy.  Children learn quickly what is valued at home.

No one wants to deprive a child of the opportunity to grow into adulthood in a warm, secure, and sane environment.  But we do deprive children when we neglect to give them the quality time and attention that they need, deserve and must have.  That is a lesson for all of us.

Again, Madame Chair, with the recent work disruption and the subsequent re-focusing of the duties of the Principals, we have fewer school reports.   I would direct your attention to the  number of site reports emanating from our individual schools.