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Sections > School Board Meeting - Minutes > School Board Meeting Minutes: March 31, 2016 - Special
School Board Meeting Minutes: March 31, 2016 - Special
Published by Michelle MacLeod [Michelle MacLeod] on 05/04/2016 (698 reads)
School Board Meeting Minutes: March 31, 2016 - Special

Sydney Academy
Sydney, N.S.
March 31, 2016



A Special Board meeting of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was called to order today beginning at 6:30 p.m.


Present: Lorne Green, Chair Sandra Margettie Steve Parsons
Joan Currie John Berk Barb Mercer
Jackie Organ Darren Googoo Kevin Ruelland
Joyce LindJack Toomey Stewart Matheson
Gary Fraser Charlotte Shaw
Absent (sent regrets): Yvonne Kennedy Fred Tilley
Absent: n/a
Also, Present: Beth MacIsaac, Superintendent
George Boudreau, Director of Financial Services
Wendy King, Director of Human Resource Services
Paul Oldford, Director of Operational Services
Michelle MacLeod, Board Recording Secretary

(3) SOC PRESENTATION: (powerpoint attached to the original minutes)

Ms. Shauna Ratchford along with Mr. Kevin Deveaux presented the report. They began by recognizing the work of members of the SAC. They then followed by recognizing the mandate of the committee. They met eleven times as a working committee and held three public meetings.

They identified unique consideration -; providing the Board with a written recommendation with respect to revised geographic boundaries within the Sydney Family of Schools.

They identified the square footage reduction under each option along with the strengths and weaknesses under each option. They further noted that some options were received during the School Review process. In conclusion they identified the preferred option chosen.

· Sydney Academy (9-12)
· Sherwood Park (6-8)
· Whitney Pier (P-8)
· Cusack (P-5)
· Brookland (P-5)
· Mira Road -; P-5

Recommended for closure would be Harbourside and Shipyard.

Buffer School would be Mira Road -; remain open as long as needed, as determined by board, to house P-5 students.

The closure of Harbourside P-5 students accommodated at Whitney Pier Memorial

They then identified the response they received from the public with regards to the preferred option chosen.


Mr. Paul Oldford, Director of Operational Services began with a power-point presentation.

Included in his report were the following highlights:

· Reference Documents
· Hub School Information
· Reference Criteria
· The SOC Report and Recommendations
· Facilities and Capital requirements
· Transportation
· Boundaries
· Finance
· Human Resources
· Programming and Student Services
· Timeline
· An Appendix section


i. Brookland -; n/a

ii. Cusack - n/a

iii. Harbourside:

(a) Ms. Denise Dwyer - Felt that elementary students should not be attending Whitney Pier Memorial. She wished for her grandson to attend Harbourside Elementary. She expressed concern about busing elementary students.

(b) Ms. Kim Shepherd -; Spoke on behalf of the Whitney Pier community. She did not want to see French Immersion leave Whitney Pier Memorial. She recognized the number of emails sent expressing concern and noted that more people have concerns then those that sent emails. She had concerns regarding class size. She would encourage people to contact the Utility Review Board to decrease the size of the Board. Concern was expressed regarding the loss of jobs in an economy presently struggling. Questioned Hub School proposals. She highlighted potential future increases in enrollment.

(c) Ms. Carmella Dalton -; Her son attends Harbourside. She does not understand French Immersion being removed from Whitney Pier Memorial.

iii. Mira Road -; n/a

v. Sherwood Park:

(a) Ms. Laurie MacDonald, son attends Sherwood Park. Her son feels safe at this school and is having a wonderful school experience. The teachers and support systems meet his needs. The green space is accessable. Very safe drop off and pick up zone at the site. She does not feel this exists at Brookland Elementary -; she provided examples of safety issues at the school.

(b) Ms. Shauna Ratchford -; spoke as a parent of two special needs students. She noted as parents we need to work with our schools to ensure that our childs needs are met. She noted we are struggling through very difficult economic times. Money needs to not only go to buildings but to services and programs in our schools.

vi. Shipyard Elementary:

(a) Mr. Fred Baldwin -; Three children attended Shipyard Elementary. All have had fantastic experiences. One child has autism and has succeeded at Shipyard and is now attending SPEC. He believes Shipyard has a safe learning environment both inside and out. He asked for safety to be a consideration.

(b) Ms. Lindsey Reynolds -; Parent of student attending Shipyard Elementary. We need to educate the students to the best of our abilities. She too reiterated safety as a concern. She expressed her concern regarding safety around Brookland Elementary. She highlighted the positives of Shipyard Elementary as being off the main road, lots of green space, history with the Mi’Kmaq culture. Snoozelin room, Reading Recovery, etc. Smaller classes presently existing at Shipyard Elementary and there is more one on one instruction. She noted the staff are accommodating and provide a positive learning environment.

(c) Ms. Stacey Black whose child is in Grade Four at Shipyard Elementary spoke of the Technical Report. She highlighted the slide entitled Report and Recommendation. She redirected questions to the SOC Committee. Ms. Voula Dunn and Ms. Shauna Ratchford spoke on behalf of the SOC. They noted that many factors were reviewed. Some examples provided were the number of students impacted by the recommendations, safety concerns surrounding walkers and bussed students. Board Chair Lorne Green noted that the Board will review all considerations and review the bigger picture so that the Board can continue to educate our students to the best of our ability. He further advised that the Board needs to focus on programming. Providing programming is paramount throughout this process.

(d) Ms. Tracey Marmulak noted she has two students who attend Shipyard Elementary. She recognized that changes need to made because of and declining enrolment in our Board. She was personally impacted by school closures during her own years in our school system. She asked the Board to make the most informed decision that has the best interest of our students. She feels the option recommended centralizes schools in the Sydney area which she sees as unfair. She asked that the Board make a respectful decision and that they do not focus on finance alone. She noted that an elementary school raises property value and a secondary school decreases property value.

(e) Ms. Tracey Harris -; Spoke on behalf of Shipyard Elementary. She has concerns over the loss of diversity if the closure of Shipyard Elementary occurs. In her opinion, Shipyard Elementary feels like family. Teachers teach respect for themselves and for others.

(f) Ms. Cathy Dort -; She too spoke of the diversity at Shipyard Elementary and recognized the positive learning environment that presently exists at the site. She highlighted the anxiety felt by both students and staff.

(g) Ms. Vanessa Rolls - Her child started at Brookland Elementary. Her child did not succeed at Brookland Elementary and she transferred her child to Shipyard Elementary. The community embraced her son when she transferred him. They recognized the special needs of her son and assisted her child to achieve success.

(h) Mr. Khalilid Rashia -; Daughter attends Shipyard Elementary. The number of calls and emails received spoke of money and social economic impact. He asked that we consider comments made by taxpayers. Commissioner Green reiterated that no decisions have been made. Child safety and the educational impacts will all be a part of the Boards consideration. He questioned the decision made and the reasoning used to make this decision.

(i) Ms. Shauna Ratchford noted that all minutes are posted on the Board website. She recognized that every school who was involved had two representatives serving on the committee. She highlighted the extensive process and deliberations that took place. Safety was always discussed.

(j) Mr. Joe Costello, father of two students who attend Shipyard Elementary. He too expressed concern regarding safety and class sizes at Brookland Elementary. He advised that he requested answers to questions seven times and was then referred to Central Office when administration at the school chose not to address his concerns. He too identified adequate recreational area at the school. The garden at Shipyard Elementary presently in place enhances the school environment. One of the elements he identified was the cultural environment and recognized diversity which presently exists at Shipyard Elementary. He spoke of his support for a P-8 school. He feels the older students receive leadership abilities through schools such as this.

(k) Ms. Kelly MacArthur, parent and business owner. She asked to see the numbers for classroom sizes and spoke of the difference in class size impacts the learning environment in the classroom. She recognized the diversity in Shipyard Elementary. The green area that presently exists is a positive environment for the students who attend.

(l) Ms. Vanessa Rolls -; She would like to see academic achievement reports for the students. She recognized the staff and students at Shipyard Elementary and that the students are thriving in this environment.

(m) Ms. Kim Shepherd -; She questioned access capacity in the present schools. Mr. Oldford noted that this is on the Board website in the Looking Inward document.

(n) Mr. Eldon MacDonald councilor for the Shipyard Elementary area. He recognized the issue of safety and that Shipyard is removed from traffic. He too does not recognize a need of closing a P-5 school in the Shipyard area to create two P-5 schools in Central area. He too spoke of the caps which are presently in place.

(o) Ms. Lindsey Reynolds noted she has the utmost respect for the SOC however based on the points which were highlighted tonight she does not see that the best option was chosen.

(p) Mr. Joe Costello -; He respects that the SOC worked hard to do their job and to respect the process. He questioned the cost of purchasing Sherwood Park. He further noted that each option doesn’t perfectly fit everyone. He would like to see the possibility of Option three considered.

(q) Ms. Madelaine O’Reilly -; Daughter in Grade Two with autism at Shipyard Elementary. She noted we will lose the students from Membertou if we recommend closure of Shipyard.

vii. Sydney Academy -; n/a

viii. Whitney Pier Memorial -; n/a


Commissioner Matheson spoke of his own grandchildren and the great education they are receiving at varying schools. He noted that the Board is concerned about the safety of all our students and we wish to maintaining programming for them all.

He noted he was shocked to see Shipyard Elementary up for closure. He also said if we don’t make decisions now we will hear from parents again when decisions regarding reductions in programs are made.


Board Chair Lorne Green thanked the SOC for their hard work and dedication for the work they have done. At the end of the day the Board will make the best decision for the education of all students. He noted that the Board doesn’t exist to get reelected -; they are here to provide the best education possible for our students. He thanked staff for their hard work and commitment to our students.

He encouraged everyone with concerns or questions to listen to the audio tapes and review the material that is posted on our website.

(8) Adjournment of the Special Board Meeting. . .

The meeting adjourned at 9:08 p.m.

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