Over the past two years, we have realized some modest surpluses in our budget process. What this Board elected to do was to reinvest these monies in the support of our students. Some of the investments were made in special services, technology, vocational services, security of schools, libraries, bus garage property at Cabot School and the preparation of the site of our future operational facility at Mira Road.
While we were pleased with the implementation of the Hogg Report and that this formula process was the mechanism for the allocation of public school funding, it is important to note that some of the basic elements of distribution have changed. I make specific reference to the average teachers" salaries, enrolments, class sizes, square footages and the anticipated retirement estimates.
Again, the challenge lies in the achieving of our retirement estimates which was originally calculated at seventy (70) teachers. If the seventy retirements are realized, it would allow us to balance our budget for the 2007-2008 year.
The Department of Education, through the Deputy Minister, Dennis Cochrane, has advised our Board that the new school construction in Glace Bay and on the Northside would move forward in respect to site preparations and technical evaluations in order to keep on schedule with both projects. The anticipated beginning of construction would be April 2008 with the openings scheduled for September 2009.
The Minister of Education, Karen Casey, has indicated that she will meet with the school principals and their school advisory councils of Riverview and Sydney Academy in order to address the delayed major renovations scheduled for this year. The Minister of Education has planned this meeting for May 3rd. The Board feels confident that the Minister will be able to reignite the construction plans for both of our projects at Riverview and Sydney Academy.
The results of tests conducted at Cape Smokey Elementary School in respect to the presence of "radon" on the site have been sent to our Board. The Department of Environment and Labour has indicated that no rooms in Cape Smokey Elementary School have exceeded the minimum proposed 200 board square meter guidelines and that no further testing or remediation is necessary. [Report attached]
The theme presented tonight has many and varied impacts on children who attend our schools. Most children spend a great deal of time comparing themselves with their peers to decide how they "measure up". They worry about their height, their weight, their complexions, their athletic prowess, their mentality, etc. Children want to be accepted, to fit in. They listen closely to the opinions others have of them, and, most important, they are concerned about what their parents think of them.
Parents need to be extremely cautious about comparing their children with other people's children. It is so easy for parents to say to their child, "Johnny always makes the Honour Roll", or "Tom always scores the most goals in soccer", or "Jane has such a lovely singing voice", or "Judy will make the cheerleading squad because she is so agile".
Children are in a precarious position. They are not fully matured, have not grown to their full height, have not all lost their baby fat, and have not reached their highest mental capabilities at any time during their growing years. We must remember that each individual grows and develops at a different rate, and it is unfair to penalize a child for not being as perfect as we might like at any particular time.
The adults who affect children the most - parents, teachers, and school administrators - carry a heavy responsibility. It is everyone's role to encourage and help children to believe that each of them has strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. Comparing children with one another does not encourage them. It discourages them.
Children need the wisdom of their elders. They need to be nurtured by them. Parents, especially, can encourage their children by instilling in each of them the belief that his or her special talents are unique and worthwhile in the parents' eyes. Parents should communicate that while it is very nice that other children do well at some things, their own children, too, do very well at some things.
When we compare children with their peers, we teach them envy. When we rave about the abilities of other people's children, we teach our own children anger. And when we tell them to be more like some other child, we teach them frustration.
Most children want very much to please their parents. Being an advocate for your child means being satisfied with who he or she is. Teach your child to be patient. The physical growth will come. The mental abilities and physical coordination will develop as he or she grows. If a child has a special hobby or interest, help him or her to develop it as much as possible. But remember that comparing your child with others is futile. It does nothing positive. Enhancing a child"s self-image by emphasizing and admiring those traits that make the child truly unique is positive enrichment. Your child wants to "live up" to your expectations. You will do much for your child if you make those expectations reasonable and reachable.
Madame Chair, may I direct your attention and that of the Board to the attached materials that give you some insight into the many awards and celebrations that occur throughout our fifty-eight (58) school sites within the regional board. This is an opportunity that principals have in order to directly communicate to you the successes of our staff and students.