Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Board Meeting


Monday - March 21, 2005

The most direct and immediate concern of the school system is with the communities in which it is located. When changes are introduced in the educational services, the communities should know about them immediately and have direct access to school personnel to express opinions and register complaints or support. Successful board members and administrators can anticipate reactions and adjust their behavior accordingly. A common problem for the school system is the location of new schools in the district. Along with the actual site locations, we have to deal with grade configuration in respect to the new schools.

 

It is important to note that the participation of all concerned partners does permit these sectors to see the complexity of the problem and to approach the solution with the whole educational program in mind.

 

It has been our experience from past ventures to see a common purpose being developed between the communities and the school system. Hopefully, resulting in a feeling that educational decision-making and responsibility concerns everyone, not just a few elected representatives. It is so much easier for School Boards to disseminate favorable information throughout a community. It is another story to communicate controversial decisions to that same community. For example, the whole business of building a new school within an area can explain this. We have an opportunity to build a new school in the Northside area. This opportunity evolved from an offer by the Department of Education to build one elementary/junior high school in the Northside area which would replace four existing schools. The new school would accommodate the students from: St. Joseph's Elementary, North Sydney; St. Mary's Elementary , North Sydney; Sydney Mines Junior High School, Sydney Mines and Thompson Junior High School, North Sydney. The School Board accepted this offer in 2004 and the process took on a life of its own. In the spring of 2004, some concerns were expressed by the Sydney Mines communities about the new school proposal. The main concerns by the Sydney Mines group centered around students having to be bussed out of the community. The grade configuration within the new school was P - 9 which evolved another concern about integrating elementary students with junior high students. The Sydney Mines group presented a ‘brief' indicating their wishes. The basis of their proposal was to keep their junior high school students within the town boundaries of Sydney Mines. The solution put forward was to have a refit associated with St. Joseph's School, Sydney Mines, which could accommodate the Grades 7 & 8 students and the Grade 9 students could go to Memorial High School in Sydney Mines. This would result in the new school in North Sydney accommodating the elementary students from: St. Mary's, St. Joseph's and the junior high school students from Thompson. The Board were presented with six (6) options in respect to the new school construction in the Northside community [see Appendix A]. At a recent meeting of the Board's Management Committee, three more options were presented by Commissioner Fred Tilley [see attached Appendix B].

 

The intent of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, after the Management Committee on Monday, March 8th, was to meet with representatives of the Northside Community - i.e. Sydney Mines and North Sydney to receive further input from the communities. The time was scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on March 21st. It was further indicated that the Board would call a special meeting after tonight's session in order to discuss the nine (9) options plus the input from the communities and lastly to render a final decision.

 

This Board has maintained a conscious effort to work with the communities of North Sydney and Sydney Mines in exploring ways of bringing about genuine co-operation, beneficial to all concerned, which should be a continuous process in the creation of community relationships.

 

Just a note on our work in respect to Board policy review and development. It is important to understand that policy is a crucial School Board's role in our system of education. As a governance body, the Regional Board establishes the direction and structure of its school region by adopting policies through the authority granted by the Department of Education and Government of Nova Scotia. School Board policies have the force of law equal to statutes or ordinances. Policy establishes direction for the region; policies set goals, assigns authority and establishes controls that make school governance and management possible. Policies are the means by which educators are accountable to the public. At the present time, staff are busy complying all existing policies, drafting new policies and revising old policies in order to present them to the Board for their deliberation. A thank you is in order for all those participating in this task, especially our Director of Programs & Student Services, Director of Financial Services, Director of Human Resource Services and our Director of Operational Services.

 

Madame Chair, again I present a theme article for parents, students and the general public. Tonight, my focus is on ‘Children At Risk'.

 

What conditions or symptoms are indicators of problems in the school environment? What factors stand in the way of success for the student as he or she moves toward graduation? Persons who are interested in assessing the degree to which a given child is at risk or finding little success in school will discover it useful to apply the following questions as a guideline for identification:

 

Children who find little or no success at school are the concern of educators across the country. By calling attention to the students who are at risk and the possible causes of the condition, educators hope to raise public awareness and focus on solutions. In growing numbers, students come to school unable to achieve up to expected standards. Chronic failure impacts attitude and effort and leads to lowered motivation and an education that poorly prepares the student to function in life. Educators are urging community members and parents to join in efforts to identify students who are at risk in order to formulate programs to remedy the problem.

 

Identification of children who are at risk is a matter of high priority in the schools. Knowing who these children are and which of their needs are unmet allows educators and community members to move toward solving the problem of children at risk.

 

Your interest in at-risk children and programs to meet their needs is essential. Please contact your local school to learn more about what is being done there to make all children successful learners.

 

Madame Chair, may I direct your attention to the articles attached to my report. The news from schools is most important. The celebrations of our students' successes is our pride and joy. Please take the time to read and acknowledge their accomplishments.

 

 

(See Appendix A & B below)

 

Appendix ‘A’

NORTHSIDE SCHOOL OPTIONS

1.       P-9 as proposed

Benefits                                                      Concerns

1.  New school in North Sydney                             1.  Creates excessive underutilized space for which the Board is not funded ie: Dr. T. L.

2.  All North Sydney students staying in                      Sullivan Jr. and Memorial

     North Sydney                                                       

2.  Large school - disproportioned  student number 2/3 Jr High, 1/3 Primary

 

3.  Site location- 2 of the 3 locations will require extensive bussing for all students.

 

4.  No monies for upgrades to Dr. T.L. Sullivan

      and Memorial until, at least, the next round of Capital initiatives starting in 2010.

 

5.  Sydney Mines Grades 7-9 are bussed to North Sydney.

 

Other - If the P-9 school is build in North Sydney, and is to include the 7-9 students from Sydney Mines, then all Sydney Mines students must be bussed.  What is the difference in bussing the 7 & 8's to Dr. T. L. Sullivan and the Grade 9's to Memorial?  Bussing is bussing

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE SCHOOL OPTIONS

 

2.    P-6 school in North Sydney

        -Grades 7 & 8 students from North Sydney and Sydney Mines go to Dr. T.L. Sullivan Jr High

        - All Grade 9 students go to Memorial

 

Benefits                                            Concerns

 

1.      New school in North Sydney

 

2.      Best use of existing facilities                    1.     Bussing to T.L. Sullivan Jr High

Dr. T.L. Sullivan & Memorial.

2.     No Jr. High School in North Sydney-Sydney

3.      Reduced loss of funding re: under-                   Mines.

utilized square footage.                          

3.     Grade 9 students in Memorial High.

4.      Monies made available right away

to upgrade Memorial Vocational

as well as upgrades to the two

buildings , Dr. T.L. Sullivan and

Memorial.

 

5.      Most students on the Northside already

go to Memorial for Grades 10-12.  This

proposal allows them to be together from

Grade 7 on.

 

6.      French Immersion is currently offered at

Sydney Mines Jr High and students from

Thompson and Dr. T.L. Sullivan transfer

there.  This option puts the program in the

Jr High School attended by all Grade 7 &8's,

therefore, making it more available.  The

Grade 9's will receive it at Memorial.

 

Other - The Grade 7 and 8 students can be accommodated at Dr. T.L. Sullivan Jr High.  The Grade 9 students can be accommodated in a separate section at Memorial High.  No matter where the school is built, a large number of students have to be bussed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE OPTIONS

 

3.    Add on to Seton Elementary to accommodate the P-6 students currently at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Elementaries

Grades 7 & 8 to Dr. T.L. Sullivan Jr High

Grades 9 to Memorial High

 

Benefits                                                Concerns

 

1.        Best use of existing facilities                       1.  Bussing to Dr. T.L. Sullivan Jr High

Dr. T.L. Sullivan, Memorial

and Seton                                                        2.  No Jr High in North Sydney & Sydney Mines

 

2.        Seton Elementary gets a much                   3.  Grade 9 students to Memorial High

needed upgrade including Library,

Cafeteria, old section removal, etc               4.  Combining both communities of students in

North Sydney

3.        Reduced loss of funding re: under-

utilized square footage.                                 5.  No new school in North Sydney

 

4.        Monies made available right away

to upgrade Memorial Vocational as

well as upgrades to the two buildings

Dr. T.L. Sullivan and Memorial

 

5.        Most students on the Northside, currently

go to Memorial High for Grades 10-12.

This proposal allows them to be together

for Grades 7 to 12.

 

6.        French Immersion is currently offered at

Sydney Mines Jr High and students from

Thompson and Dr. T.L. Sullivan transfer

there.  This option puts the program in the

Jr High School attended by all Grade 7 &8's,

therefore, making it more available.  The

Grade 9's will receive it at Memorial.

 

Other - The Grade 7 and 8 students can be accommodated at Dr. T.L. Sullivan Jr High.  The Grade 9 students can be accommodated in a separate section at Memorial High.  No matter where the school is built, a large number of students have to be bussed.

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE SCHOOL OPTIONS

 

4.      -  P-8 School in North Sydney for the North Sydney students only.

- Grade 7-8 from Sydney Mines to Dr. T.L. Sullivan

- All Grade 9 students on the Northside to Memorial

 

Benefits                                                 Concerns

 

1.        New School in North Sydney                     1.  Additional cost of offering a Grade 7-8 program in North Sydney compared to all

2.        All North Sydney students stay in                    students at Dr. T.L. Sullivan.

North Sydney.

         2.  Maintaining a small Jr High

3.        Reduces the lose of funding for                               

underutilized square footage as the          3.  Still some loss of funding for underutilized

new school will be small and there                  square footage

will be more students in Dr. T.L.

Sullivan and Memorial                                 4.  Reduces the monies that will be available

  to upgrade Dr. T.L. Sullivan and Memorial

4.        Bussing costs to Dr. T.L. Sullivan                  including the Vocational wing as the new

Jr High for Sydney Mines students                 school will cost more than a P-6.

will be the same as bussing to North

Sydney.                                                          5. Grade 7 -8 students wishing to take French

Immersion will have to be bussed to Dr.

5.        French Immersion will be offered to                 T.L. Sullivan Jr High.

more students at Dr. T.L. Sullivan. 

Currently, it is offered at Sydney Mines

Jr High and the students at Dr. T.L.

Sullivan must elect to transfer there.

 

6.        The proportion of Jr High students to

elementary is better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE SCHOOL OPTIONS

 

5.      P-8 school in North Sydney for the elementary students currently attending St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Elementary Schools and the Grade 7 & 8 students from North Sydney and Sydney Mines.

-  The Grade 9 students from North Sydney and Sydney Mines go to      Memorial.

 

Benefits                                                  Concerns

 

1.        New school in North Sydney                             1.  French Immersion will be offered in the

      new school.  Students attending Dr. T.L.

2.        Helps to reduce the loss of funding                        Sullivan who want to take the program

for underutilized square footage at                          will have to transfer to the new school.

Memorial.

3.       The number of Jr. High students                        2.  The loss of funding for underutilized

to elementary is closer                                             square footage at Dr. T.L. Sullivan continues to rise with the           normal reduction

4.        Some of the Grade 9 students might be                in students.  This will have to be

able to access the Vocational programs.               monitored.

 

3.  The location of the school could add to higher bussing costs.

 

4.  A great reduction in the monies that would be available for upgrades to Dr. T.L. Sullivan             and Memorial including the Vocational.  There may be no monies available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORTHSIDE SCHOOL OPTIONS

 

6.      P-8 school in North Sydney for the elementary students currently attending St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Elementary Schools and the grade 7 & 8 students from North Sydney and Sydney Mines.

- All Grade 9 students on the Northside including Dr. T.L. Sullivan go to    Memorial

- Dr. T.L. Sullivan becomes a middle school (Grades 6-8) for the County    students.

 

Benefits                                                   Concerns

 

1.        New school in North Sydney                         1.      French Immersion will be offered in the

new school.  Grade 7 & 8 students attending

2.        Helps reduce the loss of funding                              Dr. T.L. Sullivan who went to French

for the underutilized square footage                         Immersion must transfer to the new school.

At Memorial.                                                

2.      The loss of funding for the underutilized

3.        Putting the Grade 6's in Dr. T.L.                              square footage at Dr. T.L. Sullivan

Sullivan would allow for the re-                               continues to rise

moval of the old wing at Florence,

therefore, reducing some under-                  3.      Having Grade 6-8 in the same school.

utilized square footage

4.      A great reduction in the monies available

4.        The number of Jr. High students                              for upgrades to Dr. T.L. Sullivan and

to elementary is better than with the                         Memorial including Vocational.  There

P-9 concept.                                                          may be no monies available.

 

5.        More space at Bras d’or Elementary             

 

6.        Some of the Grade 9 students might be

able to access the Vocational program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix ‘B’

Northside School

Option 7:

P - 8  - North Sydney

Add on to St. Joseph’s in Sydney Mines for P - 8

All Grade 9's go to Memorial

 

Option 8:

P - 8  - North Sydney

Sydney Mines - Add small piece to St. Joseph’s - P-4

Jubilee - Grs. 5 - 8

Grade 9 to Memorial

 

Option 9:

Same as Option 8 - except P - 9 - North Sydney

Sydney Mines - St. Joseph’s - P - 5

Jubilee - 6 - 9