Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Board Meeting


May 30, 2005

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board determines its strategic issues based on and consistent with its vision and mission. The framework is built within the environment of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the more general area of Nova Scotia. The strategic issues are the fundamental instruments that the Board uses to achieve its mission and move towards its desired future.

Periodic evaluation of strategies, tactics and action programs are essential to assessing success of the strategic planning process. We have just completed our review of our 'Strategic Plan' established in 2003. This progress report was presented to the Education Committee of the Board by Director of Programs & Student Services, Archie MacEachern, which represented many hours of work and consultation with our stakeholders. Mr. MacEachern thanked our Directors, Co-ordinators, staff and communities for their efforts. The main thrust was to present in a clear format the measure of current performances against the previously set expectations of the original plan and consider any changes or events that may have impacted on our desired course of action. The revised plan will take into consideration emergent strategies and changes affecting the Board's intended course.

It is only wise, at this time of the year, that we pause for a moment and take inventory of the documents and recent mandates that direct the course of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. So often we make reference to specific initiatives, special programming, resource allocations and partnership opportunities. The answers are not always at our fingertips and are not always clear. We have headlines in the newspapers, we listen to the voice of radio, we watch the television screen, and we visit our favorite web sites. When reading or researching, we are always directed to further enlightenment by examining the primary sources that support the initiatives. I would direct your attention to the following documents which enables one to read at firsthand the direction in which the Department of Education is leading the regional boards and subsequently the lives of our students in this province.

The following documents are fundamental readings for staff and community:

  1. Nova Scotia Regional School Board's Funding Formula Framework (December, 2004);
  2. Nova Scotia Regional School Board's Financial Analysis (December, 2004);
  3. Minister's Report to Parents - Student Assessment Results in Nova Scotia (April, 2005);
  4. Learning For Life - Planning For Student Success (April 2003);
  5. Learning For Life 11 - Brighter Future Together (April, 2005);
  6. The Integration of Information & Communication Technology Within the Curriculum (2005);
  7. Information & Communication Technology in Public Schools (2005);
  8. Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board's support documents:
    1. The Strategic Plan (2003)
    2. The Strategic Plan Progress Report (2005);
    3. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board's Business Plan (2004 - 2005);
    4. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board's Budget (2004 - 2005);
    5. The Nova Scotia School Boards Association Lead & Achieve - Consultative Vehicle (2004)

These are only some of the myriad of references that the public at large and the communities of Cape Breton and Victoria have access to. These can be found on our Board's Website www.cbv.ns.ca or the Department of Education's Website ednet.ns.ca.

Again, I have attempted to write my monthly theme on something that may catch the attention of the general public, our parents/guardians, students and staff of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.

The implementation of the public school program is very complex and involves many people. A number of issues related to curriculum were targeted in our 'Strategic Plan' 2003. Among the essentials that were emphasized to support success for all learners, was the objective for action number six which stated: "The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board expects school libraries to maintain a core collection of text that describes the multi-cultural, multi-social, and multi-ethnic characters of the Canadian society". Along with this most specific objective, within the Board's Strategic Plan, is the reference to school libraries in the 'New Learning For Life 11' document. One of the proposed themes within the 'Learning For Life 11' document labeled as 'Closing The Gap' are special consultation supports for African Nova Scotians, racial equity policy and Mi'kmaq learners. As one of the building blocks associated with the 'Learning For Life 11' was the reference to school libraries, funds are proposed to be made available over the coming years to provide more books and other resources that best complement programs offered to each school and classroom resources that are already being provided to schools. Funds could also be used to help improve the ratio of school Library Technician staff to students, so that both students and teachers would have greater access to school library facilities.

It seems obvious that if we want our children to grow and learn, we cannot afford to neglect our libraries. Our school libraries are especially important because they have profound influence on learning for our children.

If we glance back through history, we can easily see the close bond between libraries and learning. Without proper support for libraries, learning suffers. When learning suffers, we all fail in our mission to students. School libraries are the places where our children are first introduced to the wealth of our cultural heritage.

A child's first experience in the library must be positive. If he or she walks into a dark, foreboding place, which has only a few volumes scattered about the shelves, they will not catch that spark of enthusiasm for learning that a really good library can generate.

The Department of Education's document, 'Learning For Life 11' indicated that the public school libraries have been neglected over the past number of years. Collections and staff have declined and it is the intention of the Department of Education to better fund and focus on library resources and services for our teachers and students.

The library continues to serve as the cornerstone of the school's instructional programs. We do not discount the influence of technology and computers on the accessibility of information for students in the light of lightning-fast technological changes. One way to keep pace with this change is to read. Frequent visits to the school library help a student to cope by keeping him or her informed and aware.

The school library also reinforces learning experiences. Even the best textbooks cannot cover everything. The good library contains not just one history book, but hundreds. A library assignment can bring a subject to life and make a child remember forever what he might ordinarily have forgotten in a few days.

The school library can stimulate interest and curiosity. Have you ever watched a student wander around the shelves, sampling a little of this and a little of that? Random browsing can be very productive. The school library also provides a student with the opportunity to pursue interests which are kindled in the classroom.

Finally, the library gives a student the chance to discover that he or she can be responsible for their own learning; that they do not have to depend on their parents and teachers for every scrap of knowledge. Independence developed in our students is a measure of success for our staff.

The school library is the best place to introduce our children to books; we must make certain that it is a place where children can explore, enjoy and grow. By giving the school library our wholehearted support, we show our children that we care about libraries and they in turn will care also.

Madame Chair, please see attached our school site celebrations that come forth from our principals. These reports indicate the success of our students and the activities associated with individual schools within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board