MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2009
With rising costs and limited resources, the economic climate presents serious challenges for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in the development of the regional budget for the 2009-2010 school year [fiscal year April 1, 2009 – March 31,2010].
Some questions immediately come to our minds. Does anyone know the impact the provincial budget crisis is going to likely have on schools? How will it impact specific schools? What programs are most at risk? Is the ‘Hogg Formula’ process safe? Are targeted monies for mandated initiatives still a priority? The economic meltdown is just starting and no part of government is going to be immune to it.
The development of the regional board’s budget is a complex and collaborative process. It is a process that requires identifying unique students’ needs in a region that is encumbered with the highest student decline in the province within a community that proudly places quality education as one of its highest priorities. At the same time, we are ever mindful to prepare a budget that is fiscally responsible and accountable to the public at large. This challenge is made even more demanding as the student population continues to grow in respect to the diversity of students’ needs; the financial realities presented by rising utility costs and contract commitments; the increase in numbers and costs of educating children with special needs and the education challenges of preparing students for the 21st century.
Many hours will be dedicated to a data-driven analysis of individual schools and program needs in preparation of budget priorities. These priorities will become the foundation upon which the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s proposed budget will be built and presented for adoption after having received the budget profile from the Department of Education. Some of the broad priorities that the Board will strive for are summed up in its ‘Mission Statement’ which reads: ‘The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board fosters a caring, dynamic, and creative environment that provides educational opportunities, promotes a love of learning, respect for others, and challenges all persons to develop their full potential to become confident, versatile, lifelong learners and thinkers’.
It is important to keep some prominent tenets in mind during the process:
· The budget will provide support for continued implementation of its ‘Business Plan’ and its objectives;
· The budget will provide support for its ‘Strategic Plan’ which contains the input from our community, parents/guardians, staff and students;
· The budget will continue to maintain a balanced commitment to Academics, Arts, Physical Education, Science, Math and students’ responsibilities;
· The budget will continue to support staff salaries, health benefits, transportation, energy, and educational supplies and materials; and
· The budget will continue to support the enhancement of programs for all students, safe and healthy facilities, low pupil-teacher ratio, student learning supports and teacher/staff professional learning opportunities.
It is also important to understand that the final budget will emerge after a dynamic process involving input from many groups. Participation, at all levels, will be evident in this ongoing procedure.
We continuously seek ways for the budget allocation to find its way to the classroom. The staff continuously review programs individually to determine if we should continue, discontinue, reduce or enhance the scope of these programs.
The school sites, School Advisory Committees and Home & School Federations are grass-roots organizations that are dedicated to supporting and strengthening our public schools. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s goals include: engaging the community in the school budget process; exploring numerous ways of increasing funding to our schools; and encouraging cost-saving initiatives while maintaining a high standard of educational excellence.
Again, I bring your attention to our theme for this month – ‘dedicated to parents/guardians and students’ ………
Citizens and educators alike are continually questioning and discussing what is taught in schools. However, how teaching is accomplished is a much more difficult question to answer. That’s because there are as many ways to teach as there are teachers. Nonetheless, there are certain traits which good teachers share.
First is a firm knowledge of the subject or skill being taught. A second trait is closely allied to the first. Good teachers have high expectations for all of their students. They expect students to learn, and they don’t give up on a child who has difficulty. Third, good teachers use varied methods and lessons to make it possible for each student to learn. Fourth, they provide clear examples and directions which allow students to practice or apply daily lessons. Fifth, good teachers reward both good work habits and progress so that students’ listening, thinking, and efforts are reinforced.
Regardless of the subject being taught, a good teacher begins with the knowledge and experience a child brings to the classroom. With this background, the teacher begins introducing the new material, relating it as closely as possible to the familiar and real world of the student. The teacher then gives the student opportunities to practice and apply the new concept or skill in as many ways as possible. Next, the teacher tests the student in some manner to see how successfully he or she has mastered the new skill or concept – and how successfully the teacher has taught it. Usually, some reteaching is necessary following the test. Therefore, “teach, test and reteach” is a good way to describe the procedure.
The real challenge for the teacher is in the reteaching process. He or she must have sufficient imagination, time, patience, caring, and enthusiasm to keep the student motivated.
It is important to remember that, throughout this process, the teacher is working with many students during the course of a day. Nevertheless, teachers plan carefully to provide for students’ individual differences. The challenge is to develop students’ imaginations and interests while imparting necessary knowledge and skills.
It’s unrealistic to expect that every teacher will succeed with every child all of the time. Obviously, there are human and professional limitations. However, it’s reasonable to expect that all teachers will succeed with most of their students most of the time. This is why teachers spend so much time carefully selecting materials, planning, and evaluating.
The modern teacher uses a variety of techniques, equipment, and materials to make the learning process seem more exciting today than it was in years past. Nevertheless, the essential technique remains one of teaching, testing, and reteaching – until some level of mastery has been attained.
As parents and citizens, we need to know what is taught in our schools – as well as how it is taught. Such an understanding enables us to help our children find success.
Mr. Chairman, I would direct your attention and that of the board members and staff to the additions to my report. These items represent the awards, the achievements and the successes of our students and staff within the boundaries of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.
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