"Board members have a duty to the people who elected them and to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, but most importantly, they have a duty to the students they were elected to serve". These were the words of the Minister of Education just minutes after the dissolution of the Halifax Regional School Board on December 10th, 2006. Later the Minister stressed the expectation that the public of Nova Scotia have for their elected Board. The Board must act professionally and must always put the interest of the students first.
The object of school board governance is to assist educational institutions to best accomplish the work that it is designed to perform. Individuals have to restrain somewhat their rights as individuals when it is incompatible with the interest of the whole Board.
The mission of all regional boards is to manage the system in order to achieve the goals set for children to accomplish their outcomes, to ensure their welfare, safety and the fulfilment of their future expectations.
The current incident experienced by the Halifax Regional School Board and the Department of Education alerts the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to re-examine its responsibility in respect to its commitment to the people they represent. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is comprised of fourteen (14) constituent members. Along with full responsibilities as board members, the African Nova Scotia representative has a further commitment to the African Nova Scotia community and the Mi'kmaq representative has a further commitment to first nation people.
The School Board has the full responsibility for public education for all children five to twenty-one years of age. Further to this responsibility, the Board has a commitment to pre-school children in our 'Pre-Primary Pilot' program and the 'Four-Plus' program in Glace Bay. Along with the regular public schools program, the Board has taken on the full adult educational services commitment within its geographical boundaries.
The Regional Board assumes responsibility for policy making, for monitoring all aspects of children's education, for the operation of all school facilities, and for transportation within the boundaries of Cape Breton County & Victoria County. The Board is responsible for appointing a Superintendent to manage the budget, hire and supervise all staff, account for the students' welfare and their educational achievements as well as make recommendations for the operations of all schools and support services.
The Regional Board adopts a covenant with the community of Cape Breton-Victoria composing of five guiding principles:
The covenant of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to the people is rooted in a pledge to develop quality education for our children as its top priority.
The Regional Board is always conscious that our words and our actions will serve as a model of professional behaviour for our students, teachers and support staff.
The Board maintains its focus on teaching and learning. It will continue to fine tune its communication between itself, the Superintendent and among its board members. It is also important to review the following principles:
It is an appropriate time for the Board to bring forward its policies which they have been reviewing over the past year. This has been an enormous task which represents the melding together of all policies of the former boards under the Cape Breton & Northside-Victoria Districts.
It is essential to the operation of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to have clearly defined policies which represents the impact on the communities of Cape Breton & Victoria counties. Policy statements guide the Board in making decisions and provide clear indications of the practices that administration follows.
Lastly, the public of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board area can be assured that your Board stands ready to serve the children of our Cape Breton and Victoria communities.
It is most appropriate that we should have our minds turned towards parent- teacher conferences. The communication between teachers and parents is an area in which we receive the greatest satisfaction.
Sooner or later, nearly every parent has a conference with his or her child's teacher. When we have a conference, we want to get the greatest possible value from it for our children and for us. It is important that we understand the purpose of the conference and the responsibility we have for making it a success.
Every parent-teacher conference has three major purposes: to secure information about our children's progress in school; to provide information about our children that may be helpful to the teacher and to work with the teacher to resolve problems that stand in the way of our children's learning.
When we have a conference with our child's teacher, we must be clear about the specific objectives, and we need to communicate this to the teacher at the start of the process.
To decide exactly how we will state our objectives, we need to ask ourselves - what specifically do I want to know? Do I want to know how my child compares with other children in the class? Do I want to know how I can help my child expand his or her circle of friends? Do I want to know what academic growth has accrued during the last reporting period? Do I want to know what my child is learning or about his/her behaviour? Do I want to know what I can do to help my child have the most valuable school experience possible?
We must be specific about our objectives and ask that the teacher talk with us about it. We must realize that the teacher will also have specific objectives in mind that he or she wants to talk about, and it may be different from ours. If so, we can agree at the start of the conference that we will devote some time to both.
The amount of time allocated for the conference is usually quite limited. There is not always sufficient time to fully address both the parents' and the teachers' objectives. If there is not enough time, we should ask the teacher to schedule another conference later.
We should go to the conference with the assumption that both we and the teacher want the very best for the child. We need to be willing to give the teacher as much information as possible to assist the teacher in achieving his or her objectives. If we do, the likelihood of the conference being fruitful is greatly enhanced.
How do we get the most out of a parent-teacher conference? We can begin by knowing what we want to get out of it and then addressing those points. Focussing on the objectives, leads to most effective use of the limited time available. Going to the conference with a positive attitude, increases the possibility of a successful conference. If we have a successful meeting with the teacher, we will know that we have done our part in helping our children to have the best possible learning experience at school.
Madame Chair, I direct your attention, and that of our Board, to the attached reports emanating from our schools and the information about our students' successes and the achievements of our staff. I further ask that you review the 'Superintendent's Memos' section that focuses on events and initiatives that have occurred since our last public meeting.