The week of February 12th – 18th marked ‘National Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week’. I would like to begin my report by recognizing all staff of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for their dedication and commitment to our students and our system. I want to thank all of them for their contributions in the wonderful service they provide to our students.
On Friday, February 3rd, Ramona Jennex, Minister of Education, released the province’s new P-12 education plan called, ‘Kids and Learning First’; a plan to help every student succeed. The plan includes a vision and four goals with thirty-nine actions to meet the vision and goals. This plan will extend over three years and will see 6.75 million dollars invested in some of the following areas:
* Improve Results for Every Student;
* $1.8 million – Virtual School;
* Prepare Young People For Good Jobs, Citizenship;
* $75,000 – Discovery Opportunities;
* $1.375 million – Skills Trades;
* $300,000 – Career Development Programs;
* Strengthening Links Between Schools, Parents & the Community;
* $670,000 – Community Use of Schools;
* $2.5 million – Schools Plus; and,
* $30,000 – Parent Workshops
Some of the highlights include the introduction of a manufacturing trades course, triple the number of students taking courses through virtual school and double the number of courses. There is expansion of career development; a new math curriculum will be implemented as well as an expansion of the ‘Succeeding in Reading Program’. The province plans to work with teachers and the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union to develop standards for quality teaching and to better match teaching backgrounds to subjects. These are just some of the items in the new ‘Kids and Learning First’ Plan.
On the following Friday, February 10th, the Department of Education announced, to Board Chairs and Superintendents, budget targets for the 2012 – 2013 budget year. The overall reduction for the province was 1.3%. The reduction for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was 2.1%. This translates into close to 2.9 million dollars. On top of this, boards are responsible for all cost pressures such as wage increases, fuel, heat, electricity, etc. This will raise the total for the
Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board another 1.5 million dollars for a total of 4.5 million dollars. This reduction will be a very difficult challenge for our board on top of the 5.2 million dollar reduction of last year. Staff is in the process of working through the initial stages of the reduction process. Programming for students is a priority; however, many of the other budget line items were reduced last year, and support for students and teachers is becoming more and more difficult to maintain.
We will endeavor to keep the board, parents and community apprised of the budget process as we move forward. One week we received the amount of a 6.75 million dollar investment in education and the following week a 13.4 million dollar reduction to boards plus costs which will bring the total to over 20 million dollars provincially. As Superintendent, I am very concerned about the consequences of such reductions for our board for the 2012-2013 school year and certainly beyond. We will be meeting with our local M.L.A.’s soon to address these concerns.
Friday, March 2ndis ‘Take Your MLA to School Day’. This is sponsored by the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union in conjunction with school boards. It is intended to give M.L.A.’s a firsthand experience in what is happening in classrooms and schools throughout our system. Our board will participate in this venture.
As February draws to a close, we are coming to the end of the annual ‘African Heritage Month’ celebrations. This year’s theme is, ‘Unsung Heroes – Men Who
Make a Difference’, honoring six men who served their communities unselfishly and who made major contributions. These unsung heroes are: Donald Cooke Jr. (Amherst), Deacon Everett Desmond (Upper Big Tracadie), Joel Mursman (Lower
Sackville), Keith Miller (Yarmouth), C.F. ‘Babe’ Paris (New Glasgow) and Archbishop Vincent Waterman (Sydney). I congratulate all of these honorees and all of our schools who planned and hosted many events as well as speakers throughout the month of February.
During the past few weeks, I had an opportunity to speak to the New Waterford Rotary Club and the Golden K Club of Sydney outlining to them some of who we are and what we do. I have also been invited to speak to the Sydney Rotary Club and the Victoria County Council in the near future. This is part of my communication goal to reach out to community partners.
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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