All of us within the communities of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board were both shocked and overcome with grief at the untimely passing of Frank Donovan. Frank was Principal of Cape Smokey Elementary School in Victoria County. There are some things in this world that, try as we may, just cannot be adequately done. One of those things, for me at least, is to express adequately what I feel about the passing of Frank. It was my honor to count him as my friend and colleague. He was a man of exceptional warmth and compassion. He was universally liked by staff, students, parents and administrators. Indeed he earned the respect of everyone with whom he came into contact. Frank was a man you cannot forget. He will continue to live in our memories and our hearts. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board expresses its sincere sympathy to his wife and family at this most difficult time.
The first phase of public input was provided this past week at the Education Partner's Forum. The Forum offered a venue to discuss new concepts and ideas for public education in the Province of Nova Scotia. We had a respectable contingent that went to Truro on February 18th & 19th and represented the Regional Board with pride and effectiveness. The publication from these sessions can be found on the internet at the following site: http://ednet.ns.ca The initiatives that were discussed fell within six key themes:
In keeping with our promise to the communities of Cape Breton and Victoria County to ensure our stakeholders are informed, I would like to make you aware of an important element relating to our current budget estimates. As a result of the accrual of non-teaching salaries/wages and benefits, we have identified an estimated $800,000. deficit within the current budget. This accrual is required to ensure consistent accounting practices among School Boards. Other Boards who have had reserve funds from a previous surplus would be able to adjust to this pressure. We, in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, have not been able to comply since we have no such reserve funds. The Department of Education has asked for verification of this forecast and a subsequent plan to reduce this deficit. We have presently informed the Minister of Education of our situation and would hope that a co-operative venture may be worked out to rectify this difficult issue.
Many questions have been directed to me in respect to the sites for new school construction in both the Glace Bay area and the Northside communities. We have the site in the Northside community announced by the Minister of Education and await the verification of the proposed site. In Glace Bay, two sites remain in the report and again we await the Minister's final determination.
The anticipated implementation of the ‘Hogg Formula Funding' model has not yet been released. Our latest communication from the Department of Education is a planned meeting with William Hogg, Regional Board Chairs and Superintendents. After this final input opportunity, the Minister of Education will make the final decision for the implementation of this funding model.
As stated in an earlier report, the Strategic Plan is the Board's blueprint for long-term planning. The Strategic Plan outlines our critical issues and the proposed action plans for achieving our objectives. We have completed our revised plan in 2003-2004 and are now reviewing the revised plan for achievement levels and modification of existing objectives. While the Strategic Plan is our core governance mechanism, we are also mandated by the Education Act to have a yearly Business Plan.
The Business Plan allows for a yearly check on Board activities associated with the managing of the Regional Board. A School Board is accountable to the Minister of Education and responsible for the control and management of the public schools within its jurisdiction in accordance with the Education Act and its Regulations. In order to supply useful information on a consistent and comparable basis, Boards are required to submit Business Plans which reflect on their yearly activities.
The Board did receive a draft copy from senior staff of the Business Plan for consideration. The plan will be read and reviewed by the Board and subsequently passed by a motion and forwarded to the Department of Education. I have asked Doug Peach, Director of Financial Services to take the lead in this venture and have relied on our Director of Operational Services, Director of Human Resource Services and our Director of Programs & Student Services to provide the necessary details. This is a time-consuming task and I thank these people for their diligent work that they have performed. Note: [I have attached, for your information and guidance, the Business Plan Template for School Boards that will support your review of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board's Business Plan for 2005 - 2006.]
Recent research into effective teaching skills points to the enormous importance of "independent practice" or homework. In order for students to learn as well as retain knowledge or a concept, they must experience success at using the knowledge or concept completely on their own. I have selected this topic for our theme contribution to parents, guardians, teachers and students to ensure everyone realizes their role in this most current and meaningful exercise for students.
Students learn best when the home and the school join hands to encourage and help them in every way possible. Homework is a very important part of a student's life. A child's understanding of the material, as well as a child's approach to the school day and his or her attitude toward teachers, can be greatly affected by the attitude encouraged at home concerning homework.
If a parent enrolled his or her child in a gymnastics or orchestra class, and the child did not practice between lessons, it is conceivable that there would be some concern on the part of the parent. We would not be surprised if our child didn't do very well. That's because we know the importance of practice and we all expect our children to practice skills they learn in lessons outside the classroom and the school.
Homework is important for the same reason - whether it is in Math, Science, English or other school courses. Teachers have specific reasons for giving homework. Effective teachers know that a child learns best through repetition and independent practice. Students need to find out that they can accomplish something on their own, without the teachers looking over their shoulders. What can parents do to help?
By showing this kind of support for independent practice of skills learned in school, you are demonstrating your belief that homework is important. You are saying that you know it is serious work. Your child will appreciate your understanding.
Discipline, by all polls, is a concern of teachers and parents. Not surprisingly, discipline is often looked upon as a negative part of our relationships with children. Worse, many adults feel helpless in effecting change in child behavior - and many believe the behavior of certain children is irreversible.
Madame Chair, I direct your attention to the attached sheets of my report that deal with the important celebrations of school sites and the success of our students. Thank you.........