SUPERINTENDENT= S REPORT
FEBRUARY 26TH, 2007
As you are aware, a two-person review committee had been appointed to review the sections of both the Education Act & the Educational Act Ministerial Regulations as well as the Regional School Board= s policies dealing with permanent school closures.
The review was designed to inform the public whether the mandated procedures for closing schools continue to meet the needs of students, the Regional Board, the Department of Education and communities. The review did include public consultations throughout the province and has completed its task as scheduled. The report is available online at the Department of Education= s website (www.ednet.ns.ca). The Minister of Education read the report and on February 8th, 2007, had given her initial reaction to the Review Report. The Minister= s immediate reaction to the > Report of the School Closure Process Review Committee= was that she was prepared to introduce amendments to the Education Act in order to strengthen the community= s role in reviewing schools for possible closure. The reaction by the Minister to the Review Report is attached to this report. [See Attached Release] .
Further to these recommendations, the Minister intends to examine the current process and related legislation that governs the school consolidation process. Lastly, the Minister of Education has extended an invitation to our Board, along with other stakeholders, the opportunity to have one final input into the process before it goes to the legislative amendments process. It is our intention to take advantage of this input in respect to our study of the > School Review Process= report.
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board intends to meet with the local M.L.A.= s from the Cape Breton-Victoria constituencies. It is our intent, and that of every regional board in Nova Scotia, to make our representatives aware of the more complex environment in which the regional board have to manage the systems within their responsibility.
The needs of students are more specialized with increasingly more onus placed on the school system to deliver educational outcomes. One of the first priorities that our Board will be asking our M.L.A.= s is to urge the Government of Nova Scotia to act in respect to the continued support for $30 million dollars for program services in addition to the normal budget allocation. It was the Nova Scotia School Boards Association that advocated the $150 million over the span of five years. Over the last two years, the Department of Education provided the investment of $30 million a year, but did not commit to the five year phase. It is our hope that our regional M.L.A.= s would see this as a commitment to our Regional Board.
Other areas of concern are: our anticipated new school construction in North Sydney and Glace Bay; our continued support of the new budget process introduced by the Department of Education from the Hogg Formula implementation and numerous areas of programs support such as:
We have had excellent support from our regional M.L.A.= s and look forward to continuing our success with them.
At a recent > Forum= hosted by the Nova Scotia Teachers= Union, we had an opportunity to examine evidence that students= learning is impacted by teachers= workload. We had an opportunity to review steps that can be taken to improve teaching and learning conditions. We were able to hear the views of our educational partners such as:
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board participated in a discussion group focus on our internal concerns. It was decided that we would form a study structure consisting of elected board members, administrative staff, Home & School, Nova Scotia Teachers= Union representatives, teachers and School Advisory Councils to develop a strategy in the form of various recommendations to be forwarded to the Department of Education. It is my intent to call this committee together and have the participants articulate our mandate and work on the concerns from all of our educational partners in order to address these concerns relating to teachers= workloads and students= learning.
Madame Chair, I would now like to turn to the theme portion of my report and address the focus of students= attendance and its importance to our children/students success in school.
Your Child= s Attendance Determines His or Her Success.......
As the school year gets under way, our attention focuses on several things that are important in building success for our children. One of the most important factors in success at school is a commitment to regular and consistent attendance. Parents have demonstrated in the past that dedication to your children= s welfare includes a serious approach to school attendance. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board intends to support your commitment to a quality education for our children. We pledge ourselves to the task of making school attendance more than mere physical presence in class.
We believe it is important for school attendance to involve the whole child. When these children, whom we share, attend school with their mental, emotional and social abilities engaged, all of us will find the level of success that we seek. While it is true that attendance, in its simplest form, is physical presence when the count is taken, we ask for your support in expecting more. We want our students to be active participants in mental and intellectual activities, along with experiences which provide parallel, social and emotional interaction and growth. School success calls for attendance that embraces engagement in learning, participation in opportunities, and willingness to grow in responsibilities.
Children within the compulsory age range are required by law to be physically present in school. Many children who are below or above the prescribed age are in school by choice, and each year it seems that the rules are extended to include more children.
There are three goals that are realized from participation in the teaching/learning process in a school setting. First, a broad-based academic program is possible in a setting that includes diversity among both teachers and students. One student= s interest in a topic sparks the attention of many others. Academic achievement remains the primary focus of every school, and there is ample data to support the fact that regular school attendance is significantly related to success in academics. But school attendance and the school learning climate offer more than instruction in the academics.
Looking at the second goal realized through school attendance, we can point to the opportunities for emotional growth in an atmosphere that realistically portrays the atmosphere outside of school. Children and youth experience the diversity of the culture that is their real world as they interact with peers. They are able to test ideas, exchange perceptions, and share common interests in a way that builds the emotional reality needed for success.
The third thing offered to our children that enhances their success in school springs from the social interactions and social skills that are developed in the school setting. The learning of skills, attitudes, and behaviours needed to build satisfactory relationships with other people is a distinct requirement for success in school as well as in adult life. Successful relationships with peers and school staff will improve success in school for our students and make learning more enjoyable.
There will be times during the year when attendance at school will not be possible because of a variety of circumstances that are unavoidable. The child who is ill does not belong in the classroom. But we need to keep school a top priority in the minds of our children. That is our goal. As educators and as parents, we know that success in school is closely tied to presence in school.
As we share this year together with a common goal for our children, let= s share our problems and our celebrations. Please contact your child= s school so that we may discuss further the importance of regular school attendance.
Madame Chair, I direct your attention, and that of our Board, to the attached reports emanating from our schools and the information about 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.