School Board Meeting Minutes: September 26, 2011 - Special
Category : School Board Meeting - Minutes
Published by Michelle MacLeod [Michelle MacLeod] on 10/26/2011

Central Office
Sydney, N.S.
September 26, 2011



A Special Board meeting of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was called to order today beginning at 5:30 p.m.


Present: Lorne Green,Chair Joan CurrieDarrell Flynn
Barb MercerJackie OrganKevin Ruelland
Cathi PierrardGary Fraser Darren Googoo
Sandra MargettieCharlie KeaganDarren MacNeil
Fred TilleyDarlene MorrisonSteve Parsons
Absent: n/a
Also Present:Ambrose White, Superintendent
Beth MacIsaac, Director of Human Resource Services
Susan Kelley, Director of Programs and Student Services
George Boudreau, Director of Financial Services
Ramona Jennex, Minister of Education
Rosalie Penfound, Deputy Minister of Education
Glenn Friel, Media Contact for the Department of Education
Frank Dunn, Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services Branch
Jenny Benson, Executive Assistant for the Honourable Minister of Education
Michelle MacLeod, Board Recording Secretary



(4) Discussions with the Minister of Education, Honourable Ramona Jennex:

Board Chair Lorne Green began the session with an introduction of staff and Board. The Minister of Education began the session with thanks to both staff and Board for the reception which she received at the two Official Openings which were held at Ferrisview Elementary and Oceanview Education Centre.

Commissioner Googoo spoke with regards to the new Literacy program which began in September, 2011. He noted that he is pleased to see this new initiative.

Commissioner Fraser questioned the Minister of Education with regards to the School Review process and the decisions which are made by Board members. Minister Jennex noted that without all the information it would be difficult to make any informed comments. Commissioner Fraser further stated that he would like to see the process discontinued.

Commissioner Keagan expressed his disappoint over the loss of potential teachers due to declining enrollment and budgetary cuts. He further would like to see more hands-on by the department. The Minister noted we are losing 2,500-3,000 a year. She spoke regarding retirement(s) affording some Board’s being able to hire new staff.

Commissioner Ruelland spoke of the budgetary restraints with the economy being in the state it is. He noted that our Board has been struggling over the past number of years with declining enrollment. He recognized the Hogg Formula and the need to maintain the formula for our Board to survive. He further advised that no one wants to see schools close and it would be the wish of the Board to maintain all sites as long as our budget allows us to do so. He noted that with the present formula, money following students, is detrimental to our Board. He further advised that we need assurances that the funding will be in place and we are able to provide the best education for our students.

Minister Jennex further advised that the Department is conducting preliminary budgetary work and when the Department is at a stage where they are able to advise the Board they will do so as soon as possible. They are still in the preliminary stages and will be gathering more information.

Commissioner Flynn requested clarification on the teaching licenses and whether the process which is presently in place will be adhered to. She advised that it would be illegal to limit the process to Nova Scotia License’s only.

Commissioner Pierrard spoke regarding declining enrollment and stated, the time will come when we are in crisis in Nova Scotia. She spoke to the increase in the number of students with Special needs and the need for the Department of Health to assist in funding this area of the Boards. The Minister noted that the Department of Education assures that the students receive the best education possible.

Mr. George Boudreau, Director of Financial Services spoke with regards to the importance of the Hogg Formula. He noted one of the significant components in the formula is the protection for enrollment decline. He noted one of the misconceptions is that this is an unfair advantage to our Board. He stated that despite their protection we were probably the hardest hit in terms of Education cuts as compared to other Boards in the province.

Commissioner Mercer spoke regarding the forty-five schools in our Board who are not fortunate enough to receive refits as do the P3 schools. She questioned a budgetary line for those schools who are unable to receive this or to receive furniture upgrades similar to the P3. Ms. Susan Kelley, Director of Programs and Student Services provided clarification to the question.

Mrs. Beth MacIsaac, Director of Human Resources reiterated the staffing process which occurred in the Spring, 2011. She noted we are the only Board in the province with no probationary contract teachers. She expressed her concern over any reduction in funding could be detrimental during staffing in the Spring, 2012. She further advised that presently our Board has over forty teacher assistants that are on lay-off notice which will continue to grow without the funding in place. Minister Jennex spoke regarding the ratio of teacher assistants in Cape Breton which was highlighted as being the highest across the province.

Commissioner Tilley entered the meeting at 6:22 p.m.

Commissioner Morrison spoke regarding substitute teachers who are now feeling stress due to the teaching situation in our Board and their wish to become retrained in other professions. She also questioned whether or not there should be a moratorium placed on the number of university students receiving a Bachelor of Education degree.

Commissioner Googoo further reiterated the need to further study a refresh program for all schools.

Commissioner Keagan applauded the government for assisting in Newpage, Port Hawkesbury. He noted that he is concerned with the resources which are in place for both Junior and Senior high school students. He reiterated the increase in the number of students with Special Needs and the need for further resources for these students. He would prefer to see the students receive the resources while the students are still in school and before we lose them. Minister Jennex reiterated the supports which are presently in place and the support which the Department provides. She further spoke regarding cyber-bullying and the need to provide safe environments in Education. She recognized the efforts of the task force which is presently in place.

Minister Jennex further spoke of the virtual classrooms which are presently in place which assists students in remaining in their communities while still obtaining the education needs which are required for them to go on to secondary education. She also noted she would like to see mentoring from our retired community members with some of our students so that they may bring their experience and skills learned to our youth.

Commissioner Mercer spoke of the need to provide strong literacy at the elementary level which is the foundation of their education. She further expressed her disappointment in the loss of the Reading Recovery program. Minister Jennex noted that the program was limited to a specific group of students which were in Grade One only. She noted a more flexible and fair program needed to be initiated. Noting the Reading Recovery program was not flexible to the needs of all students. She further advised of the progress of students who will be involved in the new Literacy program. Language and listening skills need to be addressed.

Commissioner Parsons arrived at 6:36 p.m.

Commissioner Ruelland spoke of the Joy Program which is in place at Mount Carmel Elementary. He further discussed the issue of bullying and the task force which is in place. Minister Jennex spoke of the survey and initiatives which are in place on behalf of the Task Force.

Commissioner Pierrard questioned clarification regarding the virtual classrooms. Commissioner Tilley spoke of the positive outcomes due to the delivery of the virtual classrooms which are in place not only in our schools but also in our secondary institutions.

Commissioner Currie spoke of her personal concerns with the loss of the Reading Recovery program and her wish to see any new initiatives succeed.

Chair Board Chair eluded to earlier comments and the funding formula which is in place and the exercise which the Board participated in during the Spring, 2011. He would like to see any real funding changes which may occur in the Spring 2012, that the Board’s receive their information as soon as possible.

He further reiterated that the Board does not always receive correspondence to the questions which have been put forward. He noted that a timely acknowledgement to our correspondence from her office, would be appreciated. Minister Jennex will meet with the Board Chair to discuss this further.

Board Chair Green thanked the Minister and her staff for meeting with the Board.



(6) Adjournment of the meeting. . .

the meeting adjourned at 6:53 p.m.