The focus of the Superintendent’s report has been an inventory and appraisal of activities occurring between Board meetings. Periodically, it is useful to report on issues that are ongoing and require a public viewing in order that our parents and community stakeholders are fully aware of the Regional Board’s activities.
Over the past six months, a great deal of work has been done by Regional Boards in respect to inputting information on the anticipated new Formula Funding Framework for resourcing Regional Boards in their budget process. Our Board had taken this opportunity to put forward our concerns to the Department of Education’s Provincial Facilitator, W.D. Hogg, which outlines our specific interests pertaining to the welfare of the students of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. It is my hope that at our Superintendent’s meeting on February 9th & 10th with the Department’s Minister of Education, will give us a clearer picture of where we stand.
One of our most recent policies regarding the community access to school facilities has brought about some concerns from the community. I make reference to the responsibility of community organizations having to provide liability insurance coverage for their activities. On December 14th, 2004, a motion of the Board by Keith Bain, seconded by Dr. Andrew Lynk requesting the Department of Education or the Nova Scotia School Insurance Program to provide insurance for user groups was rejected by the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia School Insurance Program. It was stated by the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia School Insurance Program that they do not have the authority to provide such liability insurance coverage.
The Regional Board has had information from the Department of Education that the site selection process for both the Northside and Glace Bay areas are moving ahead. The Northside site has been announced by the Minister of Education but the site in the Glace Bay area has not been announced.
The next step in the process will be the selection of the ‘Pre-architectural Design Committee’ who will input the Board on the programs, target populations, facility development and grounds enhancement alternatives.
On February 18th & 19th, the Nova Scotia Department of Education will be holding a ‘Partners Forum’ at the Cobequid Education Center in Truro. This will be an opportunity to discuss the future direction of public education in Nova Scotia with a large section of the education community in attendance. The agenda will build upon the Department of Education’s, ‘Learning for Life’, initiative and commitments made through the ‘Blueprint for Building a Better Nova Scotia’. There will be some time for participants to discuss new proposals to enhance our public education system. There will be a pre-forum meeting between the Board Chairs of the Regional Boards and Superintendents from each Board on February 9th at 3:00 p.m. All board members and selected board staff will be invited to the larger Forum on February 18th & 19th. Students from Cusack, Coxheath, George D. Lewis, Greenfield, Harbourside, Mira Road, Mountainview, Mount Carmel, Riverside, Shipyard and Sydney River, with the support of their Art teachers: Avril Delaney, Elizabeth Lalonde, Nancy MacLean and Kim Ferguson, responded to an invitation from Eric Favaro, Fine Arts Consultant for the Department of Education, to design eight hundred (800) placemats utilizing a range of media to be used during the Education Forum planned for February 18th & 19th at the Cobequid Educational Centre.
One of the educational renewals that will be discussed at the Forum is the ‘Pre-Primary Initiative’. We have some preliminary ideas relating to this initiative but the details at this time are very scanty. We would hope that we will have an opportunity to pilot a number of these projects within our Regional Board.
As we continue into our school year, we begin thinking of our new budget for 2005 - 2006. The budget will be developed in concert with the Regional Board, the board staff and the educational partners within our borders. We look forward to these discussions which will require creative thinking as it relates to the very careful balancing initiatives between what we get and what we can provide for our children. The object of the exercise will offer us an opportunity to push our school region towards improved performance within finite and limited resources. As former years will testify, the decision making will be done in the parameters of fairness, logic and equity. The beneficiary of this venture will be the students of our Regional Board.
The Department of Education, through its African Nova Scotia Curriculum Branch, have dedicated February as ‘African Heritage Month’. The program division led by our Race Relations Co-ordinator, Charles Sheppard, will be encouraging each school to participate with special events and activities. It is always assumed that although we set aside this time for special emphasis, it is our duty and our commitment that these elements of human rights, cross-cultural understanding and race relations are with us all year around. The African Heritage Month allows us to celebrate the contributions that have been made by our African Nova Scotia communities. Student support workers will be presenting in various schools throughout the region. There will be a number of articles in the newspaper with regards to African Heritage Month. Schools will hold various activities throughout the month as well.
Policy making and the policy guidelines are the main purpose for the School Boards’ Governance activities. These policies define Boards expectations by providing the direction that staff employ in order to attain the goals within their Strategic and Business plans. It is the intention of this Board to review all its policies of the Board and to start some initiatives for new policy development. It is hoped that we can have the policies more clearly catalogued under Finance, Operations, Human Resources and Programs and Student Services. It is further anticipated that we can have the whole system of policies computerized for easy access, cross referencing of individual policy data and ease of retrieval.
On October 27th, 2003, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board approved the revised ‘Strategic Plan’. It is our intention to review the progress made in respect to attainment successes and to add or delete to the present ‘Strategic Plan’ as new issues and directions are developed by the Regional Board.
The Board is also in the process of assessing the success of our present ‘Business Plan’. As a mandate from the Department of Education, the Regional Board is directed in the short-term by the goals and objectives set down in its ‘Business Plan’. While the plan for 2004 - 2005 is assessed, the new ‘Business Plan’ for 2005 - 2006 is presently being developed and will be processed through the Board within the next few weeks.
Again, as I had suggested I will set aside a portion of my Superintendent’s Report to the students of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. The focus will be on students’ activities and parents’ responsibilities. This month I felt it would be appropriate to talk about discipline. The focus of this month’s theme is on the adults in the home as well as in the school setting.
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.
We may never solve all of our discipline problems of course. Before we begin trying, however, we need to adopt a positive attitude toward discipline. Next, we need to think of discipline in terms of both correcting misbehavior and teaching children to have self-discipline. Finally, we need to know that these two aspects of discipline can’t be mixed. Children must know what appropriate behavior is before they can begin to develop self-discipline. Remember, self-discipline goes beyond good behavior. It’s having one’s life under control. To teach this level of discipline to children, we must first be highly disciplined ourselves as adults.
In truth, “discipline” is a positive word. Discipline is also an opportunity. After all, good discipline is simply acting and thinking in appropriate ways in a given situation. For instance, it’s appropriate to yell on the playground - but not at the dinner table. And it goes without saying that teaching children discipline - in all aspects of life - is vital to their success. Without discipline, little opportunity or success lies ahead for anyone. And if we, as parents and teachers, look upon discipline as a negative aspect of teaching children, our attitude can affect our skills and effectiveness.
It’s a fact: Children who habitually misbehave usually haven’t been taught proper behavior or the value of behaving appropriately. Therefore, to teach acceptable behavior we must first back up - usually in terms of what we assume children have already learned about acceptable behavior by a certain age. Just as some children are academically behind their classmates, others lag in learning proper behavior.
In teaching children how to be self-disciplined, adults need to adjust their approach and lesson to fit the children they are teaching. In the process, adults must always tell young people the personal benefits, values and rewards of being disciplined - or it is unlikely a behavior change will occur.
In addition, adults must accept the fact that without acceptance and praise from adults, children are likely to be negative about any lesson we try to teach. Remember, two negatives don’t create a positive. If students are behaving badly and the adult tries to fight fire with fire, all is lost. That’s why adults must take a new look at discipline. We must view it as a potential opportunity to help our children.
Understand, too, that there are some basic preventers of bad child behavior. These include adults practicing what they preach, making expectations clear, being considerate and loving, and helping children experience success. With these steps in mind, we are better positioned at home and at school to teach children what good discipline is - and that being self-disciplined is a positive opportunity.
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......