As we enter our second month of our school year, 2007-2008, we should be aware that there are several issues that must be kept in mind. The budget was developed and subsequently passed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. The budget is subject to a number of assumptions with the most important assumption being the implementation of the objectives related to our regional board' s Business Plan.
A number of measures were taken to prepare our balanced budget. The 2007-08 budget is a tight budget. The last three years we were able to protect our planned budget which resulted in a surplus position at the end of each year. These surpluses were used to fund projects that were of a one-of-a-kind activity which did not require a continuous commitment. All of our commitments that we have been able to identify have been accommodated in the 2007-2008 budget. In the ensuing year, the Board may wish to adjust the budget. We must be careful about any adjustment made without full realization that to add in one direction will necessitate a reduction in some other part of the budget to offset the addition. With this in mind, the year ahead offers an exciting opportunity to guide our school system towards improved performance within our finite and limited resources. We will, as always, apply skills in decision making that allows for fairness, logic and equity.
As you are aware, a three person Review Committee has conducted a province wide review of services for students with special needs. The Minister of Education has received the Review Committee' s report & recommendations. I have provided copies of the report for all board members. It is our intention to present our Board' s comments to the Minister of Education before September 28th 2007. Our lead person in this venture is John Astephen, Director of Programs & Student Services, who will facilitate the development of our response to be presented to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board before it is presented to Karen Casey, Minister of Education.
In respect to our input into the > Review of Teacher Education' , we have participated in discussions with the review panel. The results of these meetings will create some support to the Nova Scotia School Boards Association' s representation to the reviewing panel. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will have an opportunity to present their concerns to the panel in a one day session facilitated by the Department of Education so that all boards have a chance to be heard. Our lead in this venture is Beth MacIsaac, Director, Human Resource Services.
Again, I wish to continue my commitment to providing relevant information that is specific to parents and their children. I have had some favourable comments from parents, guardians, School Advisory Councils and Home & School Associations.
Schools understand the difficulties today' s children experience. Many faculty members have children and, therefore, know firsthand of the worries, concerns, fears, and pressures children have. Some children have a hard time coping with these complexities. As a result, their grades fall. Also, children may exhibit behaviour problems which cause their parents/guardians and their teachers to be concerned.
In response to these concerns, schools have developed resources that parents and staff members can use when children need assistance. A key resource person is the school psychologist. This resource person is available to parents/guardians, teachers and, most importantly, children, when strategies at the school level have been expended and more information about A how the child learns and copes @ is needed.
The school psychologist is a professional, trained staff member who has an advanced specialized degree and is skilled in psychology and educational evaluation; child counselling, educational evaluation and staff development.
The school psychologist helps the school develop a positive learning climate and assists all children in their achievements and adjustments in school through early detection and resolution of students' social, emotional and learning needs and through the recognition of unique abilities of children. They work proactively to assist program planning teams to develop appropriate programs and adaptations for students. The school psychologist' s goal is to minimize a child' s need for more intensive services later.
The school psychologist is also a community liaison person - working cooperatively between schools and medical facilities, social and mental health agencies. They also assist parents/guardians find needed services outside the school system.
The school psychologist is trained to administer a variety of educational and psychological tests to help determine students' strengths and challenges. Numerous tests are available for students of all age groups and all tests given by the school psychologist require parental consent.
Intelligence tests - A school psychologist is specifically trained to administer and interpret intelligence tests. Adaptive-behaviours or personality tests - The school psychologist may administer these tests in addition to completing classroom observations and conferences with teachers, parents and students. Academic or achievement tests - These tests are given by a school psychologist and/or other professionals. Together they complete a comprehensive evaluation, interpret the test results and share ideas that will help the child.
Test results may be used for placing children in special programming options, for adapting academic instruction and behaviour management, or for developing a plan for working individually with students. The results are explained to parents upon completion of the evaluation.
There are many school resources available to parents and their children. The school psychologist is an important resource person whom schools hope parents and students will feel comfortable working with when seeking support. Parents who want to talk with the school psychologist can contact the school' s administration to arrange for an appointment.
When children need assistance, schools offer parents a place to turn for support knowing that confidentiality is a high priority.
Lastly, Madame Chair, I ask that you and the Board peruse the attached addendum to my report which highlights students' awards, school recognitions and staff celebrations.