JANUARY 30, 2006
This year the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has embarked on a very emotional and difficult issue - the review of, and the possible closure of, some of our schools. This alternative has not been considered lightly, but the Board realizes and guarantees comprehensive instructional programs for all students in all schools. By reviewing schools, we are able to offer more students more services, varied facilities access, technological onsite itinerant instruction and other opportunities not offered at small school sites.
The process for review has been modelled after the regulations mandated by the Department of Education. A local committee of parents, community members and students have the task of developing a rationale incorporated into a final report that will go to the regional school board. The Site Committee has full access to all information that can be provided by the regional board staff. The report will contain information on student transportation, community impact, enrolment projections, programs and facility considerations as well as fiscal impact and possible savings. The School Board will ultimately vote on the final outcome in mid April or on an earlier date agreed upon by the Board and the community Site Committee.
There is a significant amount of time, energy and financial resources devoted to teacher professional development in the Province of Nova Scotia. In response to these issues identified by the Educational Consultative Forum and the very strong concerns expressed by the school principals, the Department of Education has proposed a study session for the following: Department of Education officials, Superintendents, Directors of Programs & Student Services as well as other stakeholders to be held as soon as possible. The session will discuss what is happening in: selected jurisdictions, a synopsis of critical components of high quality professional development, a presentation of optional models to be considered which could enhance the efficiency of teacher professional development in Nova Scotia. It is anticipated that these deliberations would be shared with the following: School Principals, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, the Nova Scotia Educational Leadership Consortium and the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union during a meeting scheduled for May, 2006.
The Food & Nutrition Policy for Nova Scotia's public schools is intended to increase access to an enjoyment of health - promoting safe and affordable food and beverages served and sold in Nova Scotia schools.
Many would not consider the school lunch program to be a significant factor in the quest of a school's mission. However, differences in the behaviour of students, before and after eating, suggests that food does more than fill students' stomachs - it enables them to learn. Therefore, taking a closer look at the school lunch program is the first step to understanding the importance of good nutrition in ensuring students' success in school.
From watching the schools food service in action, it is obvious that the students are eating and enjoying themselves. This is partly because schools have been given support to help plan the menus, thus giving the schools the opportunity to provide the proper choices.
Hunger is a primary motive of human behaviour. If students leave home in the morning without eating breakfast, they will have a difficult time learning during the morning hours. A school lunch can help them last through the rest of the day. Studies have shown that there are many undernourished students in our schools. Many students do not consume enough milk, are lacking sufficient protein and do not eat the necessary amounts of fruits and vegetables.
The school lunch time can also provide a healthy social aspect to the students' growth. In school, the intense activities of teaching and learning are very demanding. Lunch time provides a healthy break for all. Relationships with peers can develop and decisions about behaviour can give opportunities for the students to mature. Learning to deal with peers in a different setting is an excellent life-building skill.
Educators often use this time to observe and to gather a great deal of information about students. By observing the eating patterns and habits of students, they can diagnose some difficulties a student may be having within another environment. Occasionally, within a classroom, these problems will go unnoticed, but lunch time may provide vital information needed for motivating a student to learn.
Schools are a complex component of the community. All of us should be aware of how valuable the school lunch program is in enhancing a student's education. We should participate whenever possible and encourage our own children to enjoy their healthy lunches.
NOTICE IN RESPECT TO THE NOVA SCOTIA SCHOOL BOARDS
ALEAD & ACHIEVE@
The Nova Scotia School Boards' Association sponsored initiative - ALead & Achieve Phase 11: Achieving Better Classrooms@, will be facilitated in our region by Co-ordinators, David Brennick and David Crane.
School Advisory Council chairs will be asked to provide feedback on the three provincially identified key areas of focus, the twenty-one conclusions as outlined in the Education Position Paper as well as our own Board's top priorities. In addition to the opportunity to provide written feedback, an evening session is being planned for March 7th, 2006 for School Advisory Council Chairs to further discuss and share their comments and thoughts on this initiative.
Madame Chair, members of the Board, citizens of our community, I would ask you to read the appendix to my report. It gives you an opportunity to see some events that are taking place in our regional board, as well as information on a few of the accomplishments of some of our students and staff.