Each February, schools celebrate African Heritage Month. This year’s theme is: Then and Now: Our Journey Continues. Our Board supports our students, parents, staff and community members who share in the celebration of African Heritage Month. Teachers and schools throughout the year, but especially in February, use instructional methods to teach and foster African Nova Scotian heritage and culture. Activities, guest speakers, field trips, performances and school based projects are just some of the ways schools try to connect the past to the present in celebration of this wonderful culture. I would like to recognize and thank all our schools for their strong support in the promotion of African Heritage Month.
I guess February wouldn’t be February without the influx of severe winter weather and school closure due to inclement weather. We were very fortunate to not have had any closures until this month and each weekend seemed to bring the onslaught of severe weather. The safety of students is paramount when it comes to closing schools for a day due to weather. We hope the worst is behind us and regular classes become the routine again.
At the last public meeting of the Board, a motion was passed to move our monthly meetings back to schools. A schedule will be drawn up and published this week for March to June of this year and a schedule for September to June of 2014 will be issued in June. We look forward to getting out and visiting our schools as a Board.
Work continues with the Strategic Procurement Project and the Shared Services committee. Both of these endeavors have been on the go since prior to Christmas, and the Strategic Procurement Project is entering its final stages with R.F.P.s being published. Managed print services, laptops/desktops, fleet management tool and card, parts and inventory, bulk fuel, light duty vehicles, school bus services and office supplies are all part of this project. These contracts should be awarded soon, and any savings will be maintained by the School Boards. The Shared Services committee is ramping up with representatives from each Board helping with assessment of options for the services within the project scope. We will keep the Board informed as these initiatives move on.
The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board was given its budget targets at a meeting in Halifax on February 14th with Board Chairs and Superintendents. School Board targets increased by 3.3 million, from 1.044 billion to 1.047 billion. The funding model was run to reflect changing enrolment and this impacted the CBVRSB. Boards will be required to fund inflating pressures such as heat, fuel, etc. No School Board will have a funding reduction that exceeds 1.5%. The class size cap for grades primary to three are maintained at 25:1, although this is not a hard cap. There will be guidelines developed with senior staff of each Board for the class caps. The special education funding allocation was increased; however, the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board has funded this area well above the provincial allocation and I am sure will continue to do so. At the end of the day, our Board will see a decrease in funding in the amount of $2,000,600 plus cost pressures and our total allotment is $133,373,300. This reduction will be a challenge for us particularly after the severe reductions of the past two years.
We do appreciate the cap of 1.5%, knowing that the reduction could have been more. The Finance Directors will get the details of these numbers at a meeting on Thursday, February 21, and then Senior Staff will begin the budgetary discussions and work with the Board to achieve the deficit. We do appreciate getting these numbers at this time because it gives Boards an opportunity and time to work through the process in a timely manner.
I had a visit from Commander Wayne Dipersio on February 19th. He is the Commanding Officer of the Regional Cadet Support Unit C Atlantic based in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. He stated they have a total of 793 cadets, 23 squadrons/corps and 14 of our schools are used by these corps/squadrons. He was very appreciative of the schools involved along with the administration of these schools who have been long time supporters of cadets. Commander Dipersio thanked the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board in general for the continuing support of cadets and recognized the tremendous partnership of each organization. It was the first visit of a commanding officer to our Board, and it was a great and positive meeting.
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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