It is always a pleasure to announce good news for our regional board. I am happy to report that the Government of Nova Scotia has been successful in obtaining a contract agreement with the provincial C.U.P.E. and subsequently satisfying C.U.P.E. 5050 in their recent labor action. The schools will focus on their responsibilities as servants to the children. Part of the strength is that we can depend upon our staff to do what has to be done for our children.
We are proud of our C.U.P.E. workforce and have confidence in their ability to perform these tasks that are so necessary in assisting us in serving our children in regional school sites which are maintained, clean, safe and healthy. Members of our Administrative Staff, Directors, Co-ordinators, Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union staff and our confidentials were all prepared to maintain limited services to our children. The Board was steadfast in its desire to be respectful of our C.U.P.E. staff and in their objective to obtain an agreement with the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia. We are now committed to the same focus on students for the remainder of this school year.
Now Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that we have come to the end of the first decade of the 21st century. One is reminded of all the changes in these short ten years – not the least of which is the rapidly changing digital world and our increasing independence on instant communications. This digital revolution has forever changed the way we look at the world. I thought about this often during my Christmas Holiday that I spent in Halifax checking my email, staying in contact with my senior staff, working wherever and whenever I needed to. Sometimes I look back with some nostalgia on earlier, less connected days; but looking back is not an option. Some of our students may well live into the 22nd century! It is our mission to continually work to prepare them for their world and not ours. I am still excited about the possibilities ahead and always grateful for the dedication of our ever-connected community of educators, parents and community members.
As I mentioned last month, our school region is again facing significant budget uncertainties for the 2010-2011 school year. The current government has indicated that funding in all departments will be scrutinized thoroughly in order to balance the deficit against future spending.
With the reduced funding history of the last two years vividly in mind, we are projecting again that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will be making significant cuts to our educational budget as we know it – including the reduction of teaching positions and support staff in order to balance our budget. All regional boards in the province of Nova Scotia, including ours, rely heavily upon provincial funding which is necessary in order to operate schools and educate our children.
Our actions and that of the communities will help determine the future fate of our children’s education. We will work with our educational partners the: Nova Scotia School Boards Association; Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union; Nova Scotia Federation of Home & School & the Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators in articulating our needs and reminding the Government of Nova Scotia about its commitment & responsibility to the citizens of Nova Scotia.
The goal of this year is to seek an increase in funding for public school systems for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The strategy for action will be revealed more clearly over the next week or so.
Over the next week, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association President, Ron Marks & Executive Director, Ken Meech, will be visiting regional boards to present at both their in-camera and public sessions. The purpose of these visits is to provide information on the activities of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association during the in-camera session and to talk about the strategies for a fair funding lobby campaign. This will allow board members an opportunity to speak out about the impossible choices they face if funding is not provided to maintain current programming. One has to understand that the priority goal for the Nova Scotia School Boards Association is “to advocate and lobby for adequate, sustainable funding and create a sense of urgency to ensure education and student achievement are strategic priorities with the public and with the Nova Scotia Government”.
Let us make no mistake; we will be insisting that there is inadequate resource capacity to meet current, as well as projected, needs into 2011. We have a responsibility to meet children’s outcomes as mandated by the Department of Education. The provincial response is to maintain the “status quo” – not good enough. The “status quo” is not acceptable. The benefits of a “status quo” funding arrangement appear to be too narrowly drawn to earn support as a broadly effective and efficient scarcity fighting strategy.
Among this misconception is that the “status quo” will enable regional boards to maintain student quality education by doing more with less. You may be able to do things differently or be more creative in managing expenditures; but in the final analysis, we will end up doing less for students. The reality is we will do less with less and the current students will bear the loss.
In keeping with the theme of presenting information to students, parents, guardians and stakeholders, I would like to talk about the idea of the deprived child.
The national statistics on child abuse are as frightening as they are dramatic and tragic. There is probably nothing sadder than finding evidence of physical mistreatment of children. The scars of such experiences are more than physical, and can last a lifetime. Yet, a more widespread problem that educators encounter is neglect – even benign neglect – of boys and girls.
How does such neglect occur? As strange as it may seem, the very affluence which prevails in our society can often help to encourage neglect. Many children are well-fed and well-housed yet still suffer neglect. They often lack for nothing in terms of material goods and entertainment. But they may lack the care and the presence of one or both parties.
This does not mean that single-parent households make for either neglect or indulgence. It does suggest, however, that when both parents hold full-time jobs or for other reasons cannot be readily available to guide and care for children, allowances need to be made. Giving children things is never a substitute for family love, family rules, and family customs, all of which provide security and responsibility for children. Some of our most economically deprived homes provide these gifts in full measure.
Without even realizing it, we can become apathetic about children. We can fail to provide a strong, caring, and consistent model for children as they grow and develop. Your schools work hard with individual children and their parents to provide meaning and purpose to children’s work and activities. However, the schools are always a poor substitute for parents. The values students learn at home are the ones that stick.
The sad fact is that too many children are deprived of the love, security, and care that they need and deserve. There are no easy solutions to this problem. However, parents might find it helpful to remember the following points when evaluating their role in their child’s development.
First, parents need to understand and act upon children’s need for love, touch and support, just as they realize their need for food and clothing. Yet, expressing love does not mean foregoing discipline or limits on behavior. Without doubt, parents need to know where their children are.
Second, “wants” are not the same as “needs”, regardless of what the ads tell us. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to give a young child a treat to encourage him or her to go away. The treat gets larger and more expensive – and the habit becomes harder to break as time goes by.
Third, the teachings and standards of parents always are more significant to the child than those of the school. The parent model is basic, whether it be in speech, a sense of honesty, or common courtesy. Children learn quickly what is valued at home.
No one wants to deprive a child of the opportunity to grow into adulthood in a warm, secure, and sane environment. But we do deprive children when we neglect to give them the quality time and attention that they need, deserve and must have. That is a lesson for all of us.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to read the comments from our school principals that are forwarded to you as Board Chair and are placed on our Board’s Website (www.cbv.ns.ca). These items represent the awards, achievements and successes of our students and staff within the boundaries of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Again, I ask the Principals to ensure that the Board Chair is kept abreast of these important communications.
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