Highlights of the Regular Board Meeting, September 30, 2013
Category : Board Highlights
Published by Michelle MacLeod [Michelle MacLeod] on 10/15/2013

Held at Boularderie School, Boularderie
September 30, 2013

On September 30, 2013 the Board met for their Regular monthly meeting.

A presentation by the students of Boularderie School was made regarding the history of the school using Prezi and iPads. There was an interactive iPad demonstration. Students presenting were: Molly Baxendale, Rory MacInnis, Jacob Fraser, Dane Pedersen.

The presentation provided those in attendance a well informed background of the history of the school. They noted the school consists of students from Grades Primary to Six. They noted that it is more than a school but also a community centre for such things as; vocal choir groups, Celtic colors, houses a community police office and many more.

Mr. Ambrose White, Superintendent, welcomed students, parents/guardians, staff, volunteers, board members and all community supporters and partners to the 2013-14 school year. He noted he is looking forward to another exciting and rewarding year for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. He extended a warm welcome to Mr. John Astephen, the newly appointed Regional Education Officer. Many worked John over the years, and his background in Programs and Student Services with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board certainly provides a strong foundation for his new position and our new relationship with him. We look forward to this working relationship with John and wish him all the best as the Regional Education Officer for our Board and also the Strait Board.

Our “Looking Inward” document continues to be a focus for us as we start this school year. There are eleven focus group meetings and seven public meetings to be held up to November 20th. These are a follow up to the sessions held last spring and give School Advisory Council representatives as well as the general public the opportunity to make further recommendations in regard to this very important document. We hope to have a draft report ready for the Board by the end of December so decisions and planning for next year can be prepared within the appropriate timelines. The Department of Education will soon publish a draft document on School Review. Mr. Bob Fowler chaired this committee and held many stakeholder meetings over the past few months. We expect the report soon.

Another issue at the forefront this year is cyberbullying and the new legislation that has recently been passed. A document entitled “Bullying and Cyberbullying – What we Need to Know,” a reference for parents and guardians, was provided to every student in Nova Scotia. A conference on cyberbullying was held this summer and four regional meetings for all principals will be held between September 25th and October 2nd. Our principals along with those from the Strait Board and some CSAP principals met on September 26th in Port Hawkesbury at the Civic Centre. The title of the session was “Responding to Bullying and Cyberbullying.” The Deputy Minister of Education, along with Senior Staff from the Department of Education and members of the Cyber Scan Unit, were presenters. The role and responsibility of principals and the new legislation were discussed throughout the day. We will keep the Board updated on this topic as the year progresses. Stand Up Against Bullying Day was Thursday, September 12th, and all of our schools participated in one form or another. I thank all for a job well done.

He had the opportunity along with Susan Kelley, Director of Programs and Student Services, to attend a Rededication Ceremony of the McLennan Centre at the Fortress Louisbourg on September 12th. The rededication was performed by His Honour, Brigadier-General, The Honourable J.J. Grant, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The rededication pays tribute to the contributions of Katherine and J.S. McLennan to the Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site. Also, the inaugural conferring of the Katherine McLennan Award was presented to John C. O’Donnell, longtime conductor of the Men of the Deeps. A wonderful concert by the Men of the Deeps followed in the chapel, and both the music and setting were inspiring. There are now a large number of resources available to our students at the McLennan Centre at the Fortress and online that will enhance the history and culture of our area. It was a great day.

Commissioner Green presented his report as Board Chair. He welcomed everyone to a fresh new year. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is a powerful influence along with parents, family and the community on children's learning. Although we have taken many initiatives to increase that involvement, he felt strongly that the Board will endeavor to create an even greater long-term vision for increasing that involvement in public education.

The control and management of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is enshrined in the capacity of the elected School Board of Cape Breton-Victoria. The office of the Superintendent is responsible for overseeing the successful operation of the region’s schools, inclusive of all school-sponsored activities and student experiences.

All regional administrators report to the Superintendent of Schools. Through these individuals, regional employees are held accountable for the welfare of the students and their academic and extra-curricular success. School programs and student activities, as well as finances, special services, instruction, technology and professional development are coordinated through the office of the Superintendent via the Directors of Human Resources, Finance, Programs & Student Services and Operations.

The mission of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is as follows: "The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board fosters a caring, dynamic and creative environment that provides educational opportunities, promotes a love of learning, respect for others, and challenges all persons to develop their full potential to become confident, versatile, lifelong learners and thinkers".

Education is all about students and being there for them and caring for them is first and foremost. We must treat our students in a way we would want our own children to be treated.

It is much easier to be cynical about education, to be scornful of schools or to complain about what is wrong. To some people, it is much harder to become part of a positive force that understands education, is supportive of schools and is willing to participate in doing what is right.

The Education Act outlines the responsibility of parents and students as a critical factor in student success. That partnership begins with the parent or guardian and your child's principal and teacher. They share a dream of success for your child. Please support this partnership. Make sure your child comes to school each day rested, neatly dressed and ready to learn. Ask your child about what he or she has been learning at school and show interest in the work your child is asked to do at home.

I want to remind the elected board members to take advantage of their own professional development (PD) through our association NSSBA Nova Scotia School Board Association. After all we have responsible and will we held accountable for education to all students in the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School board. Please be advised that if you haven’t already registered for upcoming professional development “Community Engagement” to take place in mid-October to please do so.

He further recognized that October 1st is Treaty Day which marks the start of Mi’Kmaq History Month.

Through the Education Committee report, the Board approved the following policies;

Student Assessment, Evaluation & Reporting

Use of Cell Phones on School Buses

In the Management Committee report the Board approved the final draft of the Business plan.

In the absence of Commissioner Barbara Mercer, Board Rep on the NSSBA , Commissioner Joan Currie attended both the Education and Directors meetings on September 26 and 27, 2013. Highlights of the meeting were a presentation on Student Engagement by Dr. Meredith Burton, a classroom teacher from the Annapolis Valley Board. Her expertise on the topic from thirty years of study, research and many different teaching experiences within her Board. All board members attending the fall conference will have the opportunity to learn from her excellent presentation.

Discussion also took place regarding the need and value of PD sessions for teachers. A report entitled “Teaching the Teachers “was circulated.

Mr. Dave Jones and Mr. Trevor Cunningham, both Administrators who attended expressed anxious concerns over the new Cyber Bullying Act.

On Friday the Directors Meeting was held. There were two presentations. A Draft Position Paper on the School Review Process was presented by Mr. Jim Burton. As you would expect, it was extremely well done and well received in the group. A second presentation from Efficiency Nova Scotia entitled “Proposal for Green Job Shadow pilot Project” was also presented. Mr. Hank Middleton was elected Communications Committee Chair, Ms. Richelle Mac Laughlin, Education Week committee rep and Ms. Melinda Daye, Treasurer.

It was with regret that those in attendance were informed that Ms. Akiko Lovett will be leaving her position with the NSSBA at the end of October. The Board wishes Akiko all the best in her future endeavours.

The Board was elated with the recent announcement of a Director of Regional Education Services. Mr. John Astephen was introduced to those in attendance and provided his monthly report. The following was his report:

A. Early Years Centre Sites Announced

The province is opening early years centres in four communities to provide families with more access to services and supports for young children.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex announced the locations of the province's first early years centres on August 22, 2013.

The centres will be located at Jubilee Elementary School in Sydney Mines, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; East Antigonish Education Centre in Monastery, Strait Regional School Board; Yarmouth Central in Yarmouth, Tri-County Regional School Board; and Rockingstone Heights School, Halifax Regional School Board.

The early years centres will be located in or near schools to make them accessible, convenient, and familiar places for families in their own communities. Each centre will be tailored to meet the needs of its community by partnering with community organizations to offer programs such as early intervention, before- and after-school programs, regulated child care, early learning programs and parent education.

In July the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation announced it would provide $500,000 to help fund the establishment of province's first early years centres.

In April the province announced it would establish three early years centres during the 2013-14 fiscal year. The decision to add a fourth centre was made to ensure Nova Scotian children and their families in all regions are supported through the early years.

The new centres are expected to open in early 2014.

a. New Director of Mi’kmaq Education - >Nova Scotia's aboriginal students and their communities will receive more support as the Mi'kmaq Liaison Office welcomes its new director, Wyatt White. The office is a valuable conduit between the department and the Mi’kmaq community. Mr. White was appointed by Education and Early Childhood Development in July.

Mr. White brings to the position over 10 years of public service experience. He has worked with Aboriginal Affairs at both the provincial and federal levels. He has also worked with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Mi'kmaw Kina'matneway and other First Nations educational leaders to support and enhance educational programming.

b. School Review Committee Update

The Government of Nova Scotia has initiated a comprehensive review of the School Review Process. This review will focus on the process used to review schools in the public education system; ensuring attention is paid to the value of the school to students, school boards, community, and the local economy.

The review will take place through two phases over the next eight months. The first phase task is to develop a discussion paper that will:

The second phase will begin in the early fall of 2013 with the release of this discussion paper as the basis for a broad-based public consultation.

As part of the first phase of the review a largely internal committee has been appointed. The committee will develop the discussion paper to support the public consultation in the fall.

The review committee is made up of a chair and staff representatives from provincial departments and two stakeholder groups. The committee members are:

To ensure the discussion paper is comprehensive to support the phase 2 broad-based consultation covering the key issues that are most important to Nova Scotians, the committee sought public input into its development. The submission deadline was July 31, 2013. The public will also have the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper when it is released in the fall.

Several Board members expressed their concern regarding staffing at some of our elementary schools. These comments were reiterated through our public session when parents from some schools expressed their concerns on the way management distributed staff for the 2013-2014 school year. Superintendent White assured parents that classes are monitored throughout the year and the Board also assists through coaching and monitoring.

Parents from the Boularderie School expressed their concern regarding LBG supervision. They further noted that the erecting of a fence may assist in providing security to their students.

Commissioner Googoo announced that he was appointed to the Canadian Board Association. He looks forward to being a voice for our Board at the national level.