I would like to begin by offering a welcome back to everyone and wish a sincere happy and healthy New Year to our students, staff, Board members, parents/guardians, SAC members and others who volunteer in our system.
We are approaching the end of January, and this brings the conclusion of the first semester for our high school students and the beginning of exams. February 1st is a grading and classifying day for our semestered schools followed by the start of the second semester and the half-waypoint of our school year.
The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board has completed and published our Strategic Plan for 2012-2017. This was a very extensive exercise that included the creation of a steering committee, critical issue chair persons, focus groups and random surveys of households within our Board. The four critical issues identified are:
a) Governance which stresses a collaborative governance mode.
b) Pathways to Success which involves all dimensions of the services provided by the CBVRSB.
c) Integrated Curriculum/Instruction: This is reflected in our Vision/Mission to provide a learning environment that challenges all students to succeed.
d) Demographic Dynamics: Declining enrollment impacts all areas of our work and is directly linked to funding thereby creating fiscal pressures.
I presented an overview of the Strategic Plan to the Board members at the Education Committee meeting on Monday, January 14th, along with the goals and priorities of the Business Plan. I will address both documents with principals at their monthly meeting being held Wednesday of this week.
The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board has also developed a document “Looking Inward”. This is a planning framework for long-term facility provision and system sustainability in a time of changing demographics. This planning document will provide vital information to the Board, staff, school advisory councils, and other community stakeholders. The Board will discuss the document in early February and information sessions will follow with principals, school committees and stakeholders upon approval by the Board.
A Shared Services Review and Analysis has been initiated by the Province of Nova Scotia through the Treasury Department. There are four areas of focus including Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Building and Asset Management. The scope of the review includes all government departments, crown corporations reporting to Economic Development and Tourism, and school boards. Ernst and Young have been contracted to assist in this review. An advisory panel, including four representatives from school boards, has been established to work with Ernst and Young to make recommendations to Treasury.
Our staff spent much of December compiling data in the four designated areas which was sent to the committee. I would like to recognize the role of all divisions in the compilation of this data. It was a tremendous amount of work that had to be completed within 10 days.
A Spend Analysis committee or Strategic Procurement Project was also established in October. This committee is searching ways to buy in bulk across the province to attain savings. It too involved government departments and agencies and school boards. Deloitte have been engaged to oversee this project and RFPs have been issued on things like computers, printers, etc., parts for buses and vehicles and others. There is a Senior Stakeholder committee that oversees the project and approves recommendations to be sent to the Treasury Department. I represent school boards and superintendents on this committee. These two projects are another way the government is trying to save money to get “Back to Balance”. We will keep you apprised on this project and the impact for school boards.
I would like to recognize senior appointments to two of our partner institutions that occurred over the past month. Our own Mr. Fred Tilley was appointed Principal of Marconi Campus, which is the local campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and Dr. David Wheeler was appointed President elect of Cape Breton University effective April 1. The CBVRSB has a wonderful relationship with both of these institutions and the vast majority of our graduates attend either one or the other upon graduation. I have met with the previous leaders of these institutions each year to discuss issues, concerns, if any, etc., and will engage with the two new leaders to foster and develop that ongoing relationship.
I had the opportunity to present and participate in a question and answer session with the Victoria County Council at their January 21st monthly meeting. This was a very worthwhile endeavor and reaffirms our goal of last year to improve communications with community stakeholders. I hope to attend a committee of the whole session with the CBRM council in the next couple of months.
The position of Regional Education Officer is still vacant and is with the Human Resources Division at the provincial level.
Primary registration for students under the jurisdiction of the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board was held on Monday and Tuesday, January 21st and 22nd. Registration must take place at your neighbourhood school. If you missed registration, please contact your local school to do so.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to 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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