Superintendent Report - March 27, 2012
Category : Superintendent Report
Published by Karen Delaney [Karen Delaney] on 03/27/2012

MARCH, 2012

Public Hearings were held on Wednesday, February 29, at Cusack Elementary School for the School Review process regarding Ashby Elementary School as well as Cornwallis Elementary School. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board heard presentations from the chairs of the study committees from each school. Other comments were heard from various people such as staff and community members of each school. Written submissions were to be accepted up to March 22, and the board will make a final decision by the end of March.

I had an opportunity to attend the opening of ‘Recontre’, an exhibition of original prints by Jacques Hurtubise and art work by students from Mt. Carmel Elementary School as well as Sydney Mines Jr. High School at the Cape Breton Center for Craft & Design on Thursday, March 1. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia curated this exhibit featuring the work of artist, Jacques Hurtubise, a famous Canadian artist now living in Margaree. To further the project using Hurtubise’s work, students from Sydney Mines Jr. High and Mt. Carmel Elementary were involved in projects through the Arts Smarts Program. Sydney Mines Jr. High Grade 9 students worked with their teacher, Sharyn Brennan, and local artist, Lynda Lou McIntyre, to create a map-inspired print. Mt. Carmel Elementary Grade 5 & 6 students worked with their teacher, Diane Lewis, and local artist, Onni Nordman, to create large canvases using Hurtubise’s techniques. The final projects are on display at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design from March 1 – April 22, 2012. The public are welcome to come and enjoy this exhibit. Teachers are also invited to bring groups of students to the centre to further explore print making. Lessons have been developed by Elizabeth Lalonde to complement this project, and materials have been left at the centre by ‘ArtReach’ for teachers to use. There were also professional development sessions for teachers.

I congratulate all involved in this wonderful project, and it was nice to see how proud the students and teachers were of their endeavor. I thank Leslie Ann Andrews, Arts Education Consultant for our board, for the invitation and wish everyone continued success in the Fine Arts.

Request for Student Involvement in Identifying the Needs of Youth at Risk:

The Cape Breton District Health Authority is embarking on a project called the “Youth Access Centre – Feasibility Study”. The primary focus of this study is to identify how best to deliver services to youth so that their specific needs are addressed in an effort to improve outcomes. The key objectives are to: establish a repository of best practice; build an understanding of the current range of services and delivery methods; identify youth at risk needs and to provide recommendations to service delivery that are needs driven and respective of best value. The project is targeting 15 to 24 year olds which represent a large population of our students.

Recently the Project lead, Mr. Rob Gair, met with Susan Kelley and myself to discuss the project, and he explored with us some approaches to identify these needs. It is not surprising that he saw the school system as a primary source of information in hopes of retrieving input directly from the youth at risk themselves. Mr. Gair hopes that youth driven dialogue will lead to an understanding of their priorities, the identification of service gaps and innovative ideas for improving the system overall. Each discussion will be driven through an outline which is intended to encourage the youth to identify service issues, gaps and ideas for change.

During our meeting, it was clear that Mr. Gair understood the challenges of initiating dialogue with our young people and the need to engage them through the school administration, understanding, of course, that each school may have to be approached in a manner that reflects their individual culture and student population. In this regard, he will work with each school administration to build an approach which the school has complete control over. Mr. Gair identified the issue of trust, and he has some ideas on how this barrier might be overcome.

In addition to the students, Mr. Gair would also like to meet with teachers, administrators and guidance counselors. He expressed to Susan and myself the need to understand the issues from multiple perspectives in order that any recommendations had the best chance of improving outcomes.

The project is expected to wrap up in June with a full report of recommendations for feasibility. He is targeting the latter part of April to hold these discussions in hopes that this should not cause any disruption to the busy school calendar. I hope that all schools consider participating. Without our input, the study runs the risk of being off mark and limiting in its impact. I have asked Mr. Gair to call each principal separately to discuss the project in more detail and explore how you might best be able to be a part of his work.

Senior staff continues to deliberate on budget reductions and will update the board on the process as it unfolds. We face a 4.3 million dollar deficit and the challenge of this reduction is quite severe.

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.