The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board continues to grapple with a five million dollar funding deficit for the next fiscal year. Senior staff is working through the process with the goal of maintaining the least disruption to students and school-based staff. It is a very difficult endeavor and all divisions within the Board will be effected by the reductions. I will defer this topic to a future report as we move through the process.
One of the areas that is protected by the Department of Education is School Accreditation. I would like to provide an update on accreditation in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. School improvement is on-going in our schools and classrooms. The Nova Scotia School Accreditation Program is the formalized process that all schools follow to examine and analyze data on student achievement and on the school environment and then use that information to decide on goals and to write their School Improvement Plan. This plan includes actions that the school will take to involve the entire school community in achieving their goals. Support is provided to schools through workshops, materials, time and support in developing strategies and measuring growth. During the cycle, schools report on their growth through their annual reports. Throughout this process, the School Advisory Council is updated on the progress and to approve each report.
This year, in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, we have seven schools that have worked through the cycle and were ready for their accreditation visit. Vince Warner, Director of Evaluation Services at the Department of Education and Susan Kelley, Co-ordinator of Student Services (Educational Quality & Accountability), visited each of the seven schools. Several of the other Co-ordinators from Programs & Student Services also attended. The agenda for the visit included a school tour and a presentation by the school’s lead team for accreditation. Several SAC chairpersons were also able to attend and this always adds a nice dimension to the visit. The presentation for accreditation is based on their story which includes their goals, the strategies they employed, successes and wonders they encountered and their measured growth. Our schools presented their work in a professional and exemplary manner.
At this time, I would like to congratulate the school communities of Glace Bay Elementary - Principal, Lorraine Sheppard; Sydney River Elementary - Principal,
Mikki Armishaw; Jubilee Elementary - Principal, Jack Humphries; Sydney Mines Jr. High - Principal, Donnie Holland; Greenfield Elementary - Principal, Joyce Morrison; Whitney Pier Jr. High - Principal, Art MacDonald; and Baddeck Academy - Principal, Jerry McNeil. School improvement is a team effort and these principals did a great job of enabling their teams. Each school will receive a plaque which will be presented at a date designated by the school.
At this time of the year, many of our winter sports teams are winding down their seasons. Sports such as: Basketball, Hockey, Skiing, Curling, Wrestling, Snowboarding, etc. are just concluding or will be concluding in the near future. We have many teams representing our Board at both the local and provincial level. These teams run through long seasons and require a tremendous volunteer commitment from the coaches, managers and school officials involved. There is also a huge financial commitment from the players, parents and schools. I would like to extend a big thank you to all of the people who take the time to coach or volunteer in any capacity with our school teams. I include elementary, junior high and senior high teams. Other sports such as: Soccer, Cross Country and Volleyball finished up in the fall and again thanks for the coaches of both these teams and for the upcoming spring sports. There are many other activities that engage volunteers in our schools. We will witness spring concerts, musicals, fairs, plays, etc.
The Nova Scotia Skills competition, ‘Skills Canada-Nova Scotia’, is working diligently to educate Nova Scotia students on the many opportunities skilled trades and technologies have to offer them. There are now fifty-five different skilled trade and technology-based competitions which showcase the varied talents of youth across our province. There is a competition on April 19th at Memorial High School which will showcase many of the talents of our students in the Vocational Program at Memorial High School. I encourage board members and the general public to attend this event.
I would also like to highlight two other events that showcase the talents of our students. One is the ‘Cape Breton Regional Science Fair’ that just took place at the Grand Lake Fire Hall on Thursday, March 24th. This was a tremendous event and often is the culmination of local Science Fairs in our schools. Again, thank you to the teachers, parents and volunteers involved in this great Science Fair.
The other event is the upcoming ‘Heritage Fair’ to be held at Cape Breton University on May 5th & 6th. There are public viewings from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 6th, and I encourage board members and the general public to attend. Many schools have their own individual fairs from Elementary, Junior & Senior High schools, and I thank all those involved with this very worthwhile project.
Mr. Chairman, I trust the Board and public will agree that there are tremendous events and activities happening in all of our schools at various times of the year. Many of these positive events get lost in the big picture when we deal with budgets and other necessary challenges. However, I believe it is important to recognize the wonderful things happening in our schools by the students and staff.
I would like to conclude my report with a notice from Lynn Crawford, Co-coordinator of Race Relations, Cross Cultural Understanding & Human Rights. As you recall, Lynn and Charles Sheppard, Co-ordinator, School Services, gave a very informative session on the RCH Policy at our last Education Committee meeting. Lynn says she is pleased to announce the Department of Education has provided partial funding to host Randall Lindsey in our Board. Randall Lindsey is an author and principal associate of The Robins Group. He has served as a junior and senior high school teacher of history and as an administrator of school desegregation and staff development programs. He has worked extensively with school districts as they plan for and experience changing populations.
Multicultural classrooms require a multifaceted approach to creating inclusive, learning-rich environments that empower all students. Through a unique approach, the best-selling author will focus on the concept of Cultural Proficiency, which is based on valuing, respecting and honoring diverse backgrounds and ethnicities while looking deeply at one’s own beliefs. This session will equip educators with the tools necessary to promote the RCH policy and address the Achievement Gap Initiative results. It offers a practical strategy for being mindfully attuned to and leveraging cultural diversity to optimize student learning.
Please take note of the following schedule and share with the appropriate staff members:
A) April 14 – Elected Board Members, Coordinators, Consultants and Mentors
B) April 15 – Principals
C) April 18 – RCH Lead Team & RCH School Liaisons
I strongly recommend that everyone attend these informative workshops on their identified day.
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 placed on individual school websites. 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 these important communications are kept up-to-date.
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