School Board Meeting Minutes: April 13, 2011 - Special
Category : School Board Meeting - Minutes
Published by Michelle MacLeod [Michelle MacLeod] on 04/18/2011
Central Office
Sydney, N.S.
April 13, 2011



A Special Board meeting of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was called to order today beginning at 5:05 p.m.



Lorne Green, Chair Steve Parsons Joan Currie

Barb Mercer Kevin Ruelland Gary Fraser
Charlie Keagan Cathi Pierrard Jackie Organ
Darlene Morrison Sandra Margettie Darrell Flynn


Darren Googoo Darren MacNeil Fred Tilley

Also, Present:

Ambrose White, Superintendent
Beth MacIsaac, Director of Human Resource Services
George Boudreau, Director of Financial Services
John Astephen, Director of Programs and Student Services
Paul Oldford, Director of Operational Services
Sandra Burke, Coordinator of Finance & Accounting
Michelle MacLeod, Board Recording Secretary


Human Resources brought forward a recommendation of an increase in staff for Riverview Rural High School.

Moved by Commissioner Morrison

Seconded by Commissioner Currie

That the Board approve an additional staff member for Riverview Rural High due to an adjustment in their enrollment figures…

Motion carried


Mrs. Beth MacIsaac noted that the new formula which is in place has been favorably received by school administration. Our schools are generously staffed. She recognized the positive work of the Principal at Cabot High School, Mrs. Barb Costello for her work during this process.


Mr. Boudreau reminded the Board that the budget once approved is not his budget, not the superintendent’s nor is it Senior Staff’s, it is the Board’s budget. As such it is healthy and useful to ask questions and to suggest alternate solutions. When the budget is finally approved the Board must fully understand the implications and be prepared to defend it in public.

Mr. Boudreau went on to say that the recommendation tabled on Monday represented a well balanced approached to solving a $5,169,000 budget shortfall. With a drop of 738 students expected next year we can continue to be proud of having one of the lowest PTR in the province and having the highest level (on a per capita basis) of core professional FTE’s than any other Board in the province.

Mr. John Astephen spoke with regards to the Core professional services within our Board. He understands that in the future we may need to review this area however to do so now, would create an impact on any achievements we have made in the classroom environment.

Mr. Paul Oldford provided some insight of the implications of the budget in his department. He advised that we are beginning to reach an area where it will become a concern to maintain the integrity of our buildings. He noted that the school review process will assist in achieving cost reduction due to the drop in square footage.

Commissioner Fraser entered the meeting at 5:25 p.m.

Commissioner Keagan expressed his concerns with the level of education at the elementary level and the implementation of outcomes in areas such as Math and Literacy. Mr. Astephen advised that provincially the Department is reviewing implementing of a new Math curriculum.

Commissioner Flynn reminded the Board of the waiting list for students who are waiting to receive Educational assessments.

Mrs. Beth MacIsaac advised that if the budget is approved this evening, the Board will receive more details with regards to teaching and non-teaching lay-offs.

Commissioner Ruelland expressed concerns with regards to the low math scores and re-iterated the need for long term plans for the Board in areas of mentoring in order to improve scores.

Commissioner Parsons would like to see the Boards at the secondary level return to a ten month schedule rather than semesters, especially in the area of Math where there have been concerns expressed. Mr. Parsons further indicated that the NSSBA has passed a resolution to that effect.

Commissioner Parsons recognized efforts of senior staff in producing a balanced budget. He reiterated the responsibility of the Board to analyze and support a balanced budget and one that has less impact on the classroom environment. He provided figures and recommendations which he suggests will provide the Board with further savings and create less impact on the classroom environment. (copy of his report is attached to the original minutes)

A summary of Mr. Parson’s recommendations is as follows:

  • Reduce consultants by an additional 4 FTE’s.
  • Reduce clerical support for Coordinators - 3FTE’s
  • Reduce Core Professional Services – 2 FTE’s
  • Reduce Human Resources Coordinator by an additional .5 FTE
  • Reduce clerical support in Human Resources Department by 1 FTE
  • Reduce Supervisors in Operations by an additional 2 FTE’s
  • Reduce Adult Education programs by an additional 1.5 FTE’s
  • That the Board not fill the clerical position just recently posted in programs

He spoke of declining enrollment and the number of classroom teachers which the Board is expected to lose over forthcoming years.

Commissioner Mercer noted she will be lobbying for more mentors or reinstatement of mentors to assist the students as well as the parents.

Commissioner Pierrard questioned the number of teachers who will be laid-off.

Commissioner Morrison commended senior staff for the work they have done on the budget. She advised that she may not agree with all items in the budget however; with the financial restraints which have been placed on the Board, she would support the budget as presented.

Mr. Astephen re-iterated his concerns with any further reductions in the area of programs. He advised that he has begun to draft a three year plan for his department which will address any inefficiencies which may exist. He noted that staff needs time to prepare a plan and some flexibility to address program concerns. He advised that over the next two years he can see decreasing two positions each year. He spoke with regards to the area of responsibility and who will be responsible to address these if the staff is no longer in place.

Moved by Commissioner Parsons

Seconded by Commissioner Fraser

That the Board re-allocate the savings from the above noted cuts in the amount of approximately $646,000 and put these dollars back into the classroom. . . .

On the question, Mr. Fraser asked how these cuts could mitigate against teacher lay off. Mr. Boudreau advised that only the cuts relating to non-teaching FTE’s could mitigate against teacher layoffs. Commissioner Margettie, Fraser, Morrison and Mercer supported statements and recommendations brought forward by Commissioner Parsons. However; Commissioner Margettie and Commissioner Ruelland questioned the timing and felt that the Board and staff should seriously review these recommendations and further review the impact that these recommendations could have on our operations.

Commissioner Flynn questioned the importance of classroom teachers versus consultants. Commissioner Pierrard questioned the contractual deadlines which the Board needs to adhere to.

Mrs. Beth MacIsaac spoke with regards to the Human Resources Department providing clarification on the number of positions which presently exist.

Mr. John Astephen spoke with regards to the Adult Education Program which presently exists in our Board.

Motion defeated

Moved by Commissioner Margettie

Seconded by Commissioner Morrison

That the Board accept the budget which was presented by Senior staff for the 2011-2012 fiscal year…

Motion carried


Commissioner Parsons voted against the motion

Commissioner Parsons requested further discussion regarding the posted Secretarial One position and the filling of this position.

On the question, clarification was requested regarding the position. It was decided that a Special Board meeting will be held before the Regular Board meeting to discuss the issue further.


(6) Adjournment of the meeting. . .

the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.. . .

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