Superintendent Report - October, 2011
Category : Superintendent Report
Published by Karen Delaney [Karen Delaney] on 10/25/2011

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
OCTOBER, 2011

On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 a meeting of the Board and Central Office staff gathered during an in-camera session to discuss strategies in response to Honorable Ramona Jennex, the Minister of Education’s task force on Cyberbullying and Bullying in general. The Board and staff recognized the significance of bullying and wanted to react in a proactive manner.

Programs and efforts by staff including school administrators, guidance counselors, social workers and classroom teachers were reviewed and supported. The Board agreed to request a meeting with partners in Health and Justice to develop a go forward plan to deal with this complex issue. I compliment the Board on their desire to work with parents, staff & community to ensure that student learning continues in a safe and respectful school environment.

The Department of Education has undertaken a review of the ‘Hogg Funding Formula’ which has been in effect since 2000. Department officials met with senior staff in the spring to get our views on what we believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the formula.

On October 6, 2011 a presentation was made to Superintendents and Board Chairs by the Minister of Education, Honorable Ramona Jennex, and her senior staff. They confirmed their objective to develop a fair formula that more appropriately allocates funding. They also provided a high level introduction of the work done to date and committed to a continued consultation before any decisions are made. This is a work in progress and, at the end of the day, could have serious implications for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. They agreed to have further meetings with board staff and also to meet with elected boards for feedback. These meetings are being organized for early November, and we look forward to further consultation with the Department of Education officials. I am sure that we will be speaking more on this issue as time goes on.

This September a new Early Literacy Model was implemented in our schools to replace the Reading Recovery Program. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has continued to staff this initiative at the same level as the previous Reading Recovery Program despite cuts to funding in this area. The new program is designed to support early elementary students who need assistance with oral language, reading and/or writing development. Resources and kits have been purchased to support this program. The program will offer support to classroom teachers who have students needing support. The Early Literacy teachers will work with the classroom teachers to help students achieve reading and writing skills at their grade level. The students will work generally in groups of up to three with some individual interventions as well. The idea is to get more student assistance over a period of 15 – 18 week sessions. As with all new programs, our Department of Programs & Student Services will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the ‘Early Literacy Model’ as the year progresses.

This September also saw the implementation of a ‘Student Attendance Engagement Pilot’ at the senior high school level. This was the result of Recommendation #8 of the Minister of Education’s Response to Promoting Student Engagement: Report of the Minister’s Working Committee on Absenteeism and Classroom Climate. Students may lose credit for courses if they do not attend 80% of their classes. Schools will monitor and document attendance closely, and there is a step-by-step process where parents are notified as the number of unexcused absences increases. An Attendance Committee will monitor this pilot and an appeal panel will be put in place. This is a two-year pilot and the Department of Education will assess the pilot to determine if this will become a policy or not.

October is Mi’kmaq History Month. This year’s theme is ‘Sites of Cultural & Sacred Significance – Ta’n Tett Mawi-espite’tasikl Ta’n Telo’timk’. Schools held activities and events during the month to celebrate this wonderful heritage. I encourage board members and our staff to visit schools to witness the many wonderful initiatives underway in our schools.

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.