HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REGULAR BOARD MEETING
HELD AT Northside Professional Development Centre, North Sydney
September 24, 2012
The meeting began with two delegations presenting a report. The first delegation was Ms. Colleen MacKenzie, a Riverside parent, presented a power point presentation with a review of the Riverside environment. She noted that Riverside is a rural school. She provided a comparison of Riverside’s student/teacher ratio with other schools within the Board. She further compared the Grades Three/Four combination with other schools. She indicated the class sizes which presently exist at Riverside however she noted that these are subject to change due to the final enrollment figures not due until the 30th of September. She quoted various statements which were made by the Minister of Education, CBC news, Cape Breton post. In summary, she reiterated that Riverside is a rural school, her feeling that student/teacher ratio is higher in comparison to other schools, significantly larger combined class. (copy of presentation with the original minutes) Her presentation also included several requests to both Board and staff.
The second delegation was Ms. Tammy Weagle She wished to address correspondence received from the Minister of Education Ramona Jennex with regards to cap sizes.
Mr. Ambrose White, Superintendent of Schools sent his regrets due to another School Board commitment however his report was presented by Mrs. Beth MacIsaac, Director of Human Resources.
Mr. Green, Board Chair presented an oral report. He began his report noting that on September 6th our schools opened to 13,700 students. He congratulated both students and staff on a new year.
“Welcome to our fresh new year. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is a powerful influence along with parents, family and the community on children's learning. Although we have taken many initiatives to increase that involvement, I feel strongly that the Board will endeavor to create an even greater long-term vision for increasing that involvement in public education.
The mission of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is as follows: "The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board fosters a caring, dynamic and creative environment that provides educational opportunities, promotes a love of learning, respect for others, and challenges all persons to develop their full potential to become confident, versatile, lifelong learners and thinkers".
We are proud of what our community has done to bring our dreams for your children closer to reality. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has committed the entire school system to an ambitious strategic plan, a yearly business plan and a guarantee that the bulk of its yearly budget will be directed to the children's classroom.
Our budget supports a wide range of services for our children ranging from core curriculum support, special services for all students, cultural and diversity initiatives, technology innovations, library services improvements, international baccalaureate, vocational education options, O2 options and opportunities, and a myriad of new course selections for high schools.
The Education Act outlines the responsibility of parents and students as a critical factor in student success. That partnership begins with the parent or guardian, your child's principal and teacher. They share a dream of success for your child. Please support this partnership. Make sure your child comes to school each day rested, neatly dressed and ready to learn. Ask your child about what he or she has been learning at school and show interest in the work your child is asked to do at home. Encourage your child to read for school and pleasure, so that your child can discover the power of reading. Share information about your child's interests, hobbies, worries and past experiences so that your teacher will know your child better and will be able to teach him or her more effective.
Again, welcome back to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board where every teacher, principal, support staff, and board member is committed to your child's success as a learner.
We the board have always focused on student achievement and will continue to do so as our primary goal. It is an ongoing struggle to attain the resources to meet the need of all of our students. We continue to be as efficient and effective as possible in the delivery of our programs, while at the same time, collecting data to set priorities and policies that best meet our needs.
It is much easier to be cynical about education, to be scornful of school or to complain about what is wrong. To some people, it is much harder to become part of a positive force that understands education, is supportive of school and is willing to participate in doing what is right. The time is fast approaching for voters to decide who will shape and direct local education for the next four years. School boards elections take place October 20th, 2012 and it is now that people should take time to ensure that the most dedicated will be given that most important duty. The local school board is that important link between the public and the Department of Education. Board members serve their communities in several important ways.
Again, it will be the board’s intention to keep the public of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board more aware of the crisis and consequences which face our communities. We are a regional board that is coping with drastic student decline. We have made the point clearly that the strategies of affluence experienced by other board’s offers us little guidance. Some boards are able to project surpluses while we struggle to balance our budget. We are a board with both declining enrolment combine with inadequate funding.
Investing in quality education is one of the best investments we can make as a society. This was the battle cry of the partnership in education over the last three years. Apparently, it has fallen on deaf ears. When you are faced with higher class sizes, reduced program initiative funding, reduction in instruction resources and fewer support staff, one must conclude that our excellent school system is at risk. We have to responsibly speak out about the impact on learning conditions for students.
Reduced student enrollment has always been used to justify reduced funding. This is a false concept which is better substituted with the idea that now is the time to enrich and expand the opportunities for students who remain in our trust. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in grappling with untenable budget decisions that affect staffing and ultimately the students in the classroom.
Since the school boards realize it can’t do everything to immediately solve problems confronting the educational concerns of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, it does not follow that it can do nothing.
It is our hope that we will not go the route alone. We will be asking that the other stakeholder to accompany us along the way. I make special reference to the following: Department of Education, Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Home & School Federation, Advisory Councils, M.L.A.’s and the communities of Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board.”
The Board accepted both the Education and Management report as presented.
The Board accepted the final draft of the Anyphalaxis Policy along with the Employment Equity Policy.
During the public session, Mr. Cecil Clarke, mayoral candidate spoke. He would like to see the Board take the opportunity to address issues during the election campaign which concern education and to engage everyone. He noted he is running for Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. He noted that the focus at the municipal level is to address challenges and to take a different approach to address these issues. He would like to see specific sessions throughout the year dealing with issues which involve our youth. Looking for opportunities to integrate our international students would be one of these issues. Working with our First Nation communities, recreational issues, and addressing healthy active communities and develop engaged dialogue.
Public transport, strong active healthy communities and an opportunity to explore new opportunities along while creating a stronger dialogue with our provincial and federal government are all positive initiatives.
Mr. David McNabb, parent from Riverside Elementary, wished to point out that initially Commissioner Mercer had made a statement that if the school received two more students in the split grade they would receive another teacher.
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