Even though we are approaching the end of January, I would like to officially welcome everyone back after the Christmas Break. To all students, parents/guardians, staff, Board and school supporters and volunteers, I wish you all the best for 2014, especially health and happiness.
Primary registration for the 2014-15 school year took place on Monday, January 20th and Tuesday, January 21st, with afternoon and evening sessions as well as Thursday, January 23 from 2-4 p.m. Students enrolling in school for the first time are required to register in the school that children from the area traditionally attend. School administration is on hand to help parents and guardians with the registration process. Pupils being registered must be five years of age on or before December 31, 2014, and valid proof of birth must be presented. They are no exceptions to the age requirements. If parents miss the date, please contact your local school to set up an appointment for registration. These numbers are very important for us as they establish staffing requirements for our Board.
As everyone knows, we have been bombarded with snow since December, and we have had a number of school cancellations as a result. We are often questioned on cancellation of school. The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board takes great care when making the decision to cancel school due to inclement weather. Consultations are made with police, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, bus supervisors, Board personnel and others from the various areas of our Board. All this is done before a decision is made, no later than 6:30 a.m. It is never an easy decision to make, but it is always made with the safety of students and staff in mind. I would like to thank Colleen MacMullin and all others involved in this important process for their diligence and dedication to this process.
School review public consultations have wrapped up as of last week. Mr. Bob Fowler led this process and visited each Board to hear directly from the stakeholders involved. Mr. Fowler and his group met with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board on January 6th, as well as School Advisory Council representatives and the general public in the evening. He did the same with the other seven boards across the province. He also met with the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Council on Mi’kmaq Education, NSTU and other provincial organizations who have a voice in the School Review Process. He will present his results to the Minister by the end of February and a report on the consultation will follow.
On December 3rd, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Karen Casey, announced the Education Capital Plan for 2014-15. Under the plan, the Province will purchase and renovate a building in Sydney (on the Tar Ponds site) to serve as a bus maintenance facility for the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board. This is great news for us because of the condition and location of our main bus garage adjacent to Riverview High School. We will keep you posted on the progress of this project.
I attended a meeting on Wednesday, January 15th, in Halifax with Peter MacIsaac, Chief of Police for the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, Sgt. Tom Ripley, and John MacEachern from the Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities. We met with four Deputy Ministers including:
Judith Ferguson, Deputy Minister of Justice;
Frances Martin, Acting Deputy Minister of Health;
Frank Dunn, Acting Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development;
Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of Community Services
Bob Purcell, Executive Director of Public Safety
The purpose of the meeting was to achieve support for Access 808 which provides shelter to homeless youth. Since opening last year, Access 808 has helped over 100 youth who are living in a cycle of homelessness and whose lives are often affected by other challenges such as mental health problems, addictions, high risk and sometimes criminal behaviors, low family, school and workplace attachments. An integrated approach to developing and implementing interventions and supports for the at risk youth population ensures that barriers to success are eliminated. This is a great program, and we were well received at this meeting. Hopefully, our request for two outreach positions will be successful, because we all deal with these youth and must work together to help them overcome their challenges.
The Early Years Center in Sydney Mines, Jubilee site, has a target date of February 3rd to begin the pre-primary programming. To date, 24 children from Sydney Mines have pre-registered. Early Childhood Educators have been hired through the Cape Breton Family Resource Center, who will begin this month. This pilot program is in four Boards across the province and hopefully will expand further in the years to come.
On December 6th, the Cape Breton Regional Police once again treated selected students from elementary schools to a shopping day. This is called “Shop of the Class” and due to the generous support of the Mayflower Mall and a number of local businesses, the day was a very joyful event for all participants.
Examination for semester one for all high school students began this week. We wish all students the best as they prepare and study for their exams.
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.