The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board approved the budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year at a special board meeting held on April 13, 2011. The Board was faced with a funding reduction of 2.47% which equals to 3.4 million dollars. On top of this, the Board had to assume cost pressures such as the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union and Canadian Union of Public Employees contract adjustments and benefits, utilities, etc. which includes another 1.7 million dollars for a total of more than 5.1 million dollars. School Boards were mandated to reduce administration by 15% for the upcoming school year and reduce Consultants by 50% over three years. With our projected enrolment decline of seven hundred, we had to reduce twenty-two teaching positions right off the top. Board Senior Staff looked at all divisions and cuts were made in all supply categories, travel, professional development, etc.
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board approved identification reports for the following schools: Ashby, Cornwallis, Middle River, Gowrie, East Bay and Robin Foote. This process will continue with detailed ‘Impact Assessment Reports’ in the fall and the establishment of a Study Committee by the end of September.
On a positive note, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was provided with $125,000 to establish a Schools Plus/Integrated Service site that will use Sherwood Park Education Centre as the hub site and include feeder schools such as: Cusack Complex (Ashby, Cornwallis & Cusack Elementary Schools), Brookland Elementary, Mira Road Elementary, Shipyard Elementary and Southside Learning Centre, as well as Membertou Elementary School.
Presently, there are four successfully piloted ‘Schools Plus Programs’ in other boards as part of the Child & Youth Strategy. This is a co-ordinated and integration strategy involving Education, Social Sciences, Health & Wellness and Justice. It involves agencies and professionals working together to help students and their families who face various challenges. We will keep the Board abreast of this program as it unfolds.
The week of April 10th to April 16th was ‘Education and Volunteer’ Week. In my previous Superintendent’s Report, I extended a thank you to all of our volunteers. The theme of Education Week this year was, “Innovative Teaching in The 21st Century”. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board congratulates Brenda Lavery and Carl Anderson for being recipients of this year’s ‘Provincial Education Week Teacher Awards’.
Brenda Lavery is the Resource teacher at Ferrisview Elementary School in North Sydney. She plays a key role in building a respectful and meaningful relationship with parents in the North Sydney community. In her role as student support teacher, she is clearly seen as a collaborator. In order to support the wide range of abilities and learning styles, many of the Ferrisview students require innovative learning strategies and assistive technology. Ms. Lavery works with staff to ensure that students are supported by all the means available.
Ms. Lavery embraces technology and shares knowledge about software and websites in all subject areas. She is always open and receptive to new ideas, while constantly focusing on student achievement. This flexibility and willingness to learn new approaches also encourages teachers on staff to commit. Her calm approach to meeting the needs of all of the Ferrisview students and “doing what needs to be done” has a positive effect on the school’s daily learning environment.
Carl Anderson, during the past seven years as Vice-Principal and Grade 6 teacher at Sydney River Elementary, has established himself as an innovative teacher, and is recognized by his peers as “Someone who just does things differently”.
Mr. Anderson integrates technology into all areas of the curriculum, and allows students to take on leadership roles in this area. He has had several students who would, in all likelihood, not have approached many assignments with the same enthusiasm if it had been a traditional pen and paper task. He allows them to not only show what they could do in their own medium, but he also gave them the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills as they help other students work on their projects. His students are encouraged to display their knowledge in a way that speaks to their interests which results in positive self-esteem.
Mr. Anderson uses a variety of software programs which allows his students to express themselves in the medium they are growing up with. He makes use of technology and props to bring stories to life…a battered, old red sweater provides a vivid lesson to students about pain we can inflict with our words, actions and assumptions. His students often take digital pictures and then proceed to write about these pictures. Before you know it, a book is producedby these young authors! His classroom is an empowering, student-centered environment!
I would also like to congratulate all of our schools who had tremendous and varied activities to promote ‘Education Week’ at their schools and to remind board members to check our web site to see the vast list of activities and events listed for each school. I recently had the privilege of presenting an ‘Accreditation Plaque’ at Sydney River Elementary School on April 13th with Mr. John Astephen our Director of Programs & Student Services. While we were there, we witnessed a ‘Vocabulary Walk’ by all of the students and staff of Sydney River Elementary. It was a magnificent event, and the entire gymnasium was filled with parents, guardians, grandparents, etc. It is one example of the fine work being done by our schools.
At this time, I would like to welcome aboard to Senior Staff – Mr. Paul Oldford who was recently appointed Director of Operational Services. Paul is a dedicated person who will make a valuable contribution to our Senior Staff team.
On a final note Mr. Chair, I know I speak for everyone at the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board as I pass on our sincere condolences to the family of the late Chief of Police Services of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality – Mr. Myles Burke. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Police Services are a valuable partner of our Board and Myles was a very strong supporter of community police services for our schools and partnered with us on many projects in regard to safety, drugs, education and community to name a few. He will be greatly missed, but his vision and passion will live on.
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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