Superintendent's Report: May 28th, 2007
Category : Superintendent Report
Published by Karen Delaney [Karen Delaney] on 05/29/2007

Superintendent's Report - May 28th, 2007

Human Resource Services

Programs and Student Services

Canada Wide Science Fair

In its simplest form, a policy tells the regional board what to do and the procedure element of the policy tells the approved staff how to do it. Procedures give direction for daily operations that are conducted within the framework of policies. Policies form the written basis of operations secondary only to the Department of Education laws and regulations and the by-laws of the regional boards. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has taken on the task, over the past twelve months, to review its policies - to meld together all the policies belonging to the former Cape Breton District School Board and that of the Northside-Victoria District School Board and to create a manual of policies and procedures that most aptly represents the wishes of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the communities of Cape Breton County,

Northside & Victoria. It has taken a great deal of work and commitment to accomplish this task. It is an ongoing process and we are almost at the point where we are about to finish that work. Tonight we approach one of the most important policies, that being the Transportation Policy for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. We have attempted to receive all input through public consultations and staff involvement before that final endorsement from the regional board gives its final approval. We will continue this process for all remaining policies and I would suggest a final date to finalize this task by November 2007. At that point the manual will be ready for implementation. Although we will have numerous jobs to finalize the manual, the manual will not be overly large or time consuming. It has been part of my objective achievement schedule with this board and will be part of my objectives for the year 2007-2008.

A number of items have been brought forward since our last meeting which represents some grave concerns for our regional board. These concerns are based on the assumption that the communities have some information on what these concerns are. The regional board takes its responsibility very seriously when it comes to keeping the public well informed on the cost-critical issues related to the conditions surrounding the welfare and education of their children.

While school boards across Nova Scotia appreciates the fact that there will be no major cuts in program services, the actual profile sheets provided to each individual regional board will have profound effect on that board. In the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, we are again the board experiencing the greatest student decline among the eight boards. The estimated student decline for the eight boards is a 3,300 decrease in funded enrollment. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has 746 fewer students in their count. That represents 25% of the total student enrolment decline in the entire province of Nova Scotia. We are obligated to reduce our teaching complement by a ratio of 35-1. We have budgeted our teacher reduction at 20 classroom teachers. With the retirement of 170 teachers in 2006-2007, we have moved from a favourable average teacher's salary to an average teacher's salary which is below the provincial average. This has cost us a considerable amount of money that we had enjoyed in the past. We have lost our funding for small schools from the seven to two. This element alone costs this board $900,000. It is our intent to pursue this concern with the Department of Education. The anticipated retirement of 70 teachers has culminated in the actual retirements of 27 teachers. Again, this will cost the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board the loss of approximately $800,000. With these elements in mind, it is not difficult to see why we have received the second lowest total funding in the province among the eight boards. Our actual change is a .06% increase over last year or in dollars we received $794,100 in excess of our budget funding for last year. The range of change among the eight boards goes from .03% to 7.3% of the total funding change from last year. The staff is still doing detail calculations from our 2006-2007 budget and the projected 2007-2008 year to determine the effect these reductions will have on the quality of education for our students.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has projected a modest surplus for 2006-2007 and will determine in the next few weeks the criteria for the distribution of the monies. One should understand that the distribution of this surplus would not allow the Board to create an unsustainable future commitment in relation to that allocation of funds.

The total funding allocation for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2007-2008 is $128,095,900 as comparable to $127,198,800 in the fiscal year 2006-2007.

Another very important activity that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is attempting to grapple with is the security of students and staff. We are attempting to detail and implement the security concerns from two sources: the violence in the workplace legislation and the development of a strategy for securing our schools in the event of an emergency situation.

We have taken the work of Constable Mark Young as a source to create our regional board's plan for school security. The work of Constable Young is made up of three phrases - 1) Management Guidelines; 2) Guidelines for School Site Strategy, and 3) A Checklist of all Elements of the Emergency Plan. The Department of Education has called for an immediate meeting of all Superintendents, related personnel and the Department of Education officials under the mandate of the Deputy Minister, Dennis Cochrane. The outcome of this meeting will allow for the modification of the Young strategy in order to allow for regional board anomalities.

New school construction for the Northside & Glace Bay facilities has been delayed. Glace Bay Junior High School and the construction of the Northside P-6 facility and our responsibility to renovate Thompson Jr. High School and Sydney Mines Jr. High School under the original funding for the Northside Junior High plan has been secured for April 2008 with a final due date for openings for September 2009.

The funding has been released for the Riverview and Sydney Academy continued phases of the already renovation strategies for these projects. Other projects have been frozen for next year. These facilities I make reference to are: St. Anne's in Glace Bay,

Cusack in Sydney, Baddeck in Victoria County and St. Agnes in New Waterford. The Board continues to put pressure on the Department of Education to make it very clear that we will hold the Department of Education to their commitment that they have made to our communities.

Madame Chair, I will now continue my theme devoted to the parents and students of our board's communities. I have taken this opportunity to reissue my article that I had developed for the Eastern Gazette on January 15th, 1987. It is unique to see how the sentiments that we discussed twenty years ago still rings true today.

Independence & Dependence

In a day when doing one′s own thing is held up as the ideal, the whole issue of independence versus dependence might seem settled. In truth, however, this is an issue we really have to explore. Then, we need to talk to our children about being independent and being dependent. It is one lesson they will need in preparation for living happily today as well as in the future.

Part of being a happy and successful person is using good judgement. It goes without saying that if I choose to do my own thing and run a traffic light, I have not used good judgement. My common sense has deserted me. There isn't the slightest doubt that it is good judgement to obey traffic lights. Therefore, doing my own thing is limited by a frame of reference. I am perfectly free to drive the streets of my town, but I am not free to do my own thing to the point that I interfere with the rights of the well being of others. To do so is a violation of the law and a statement of my own bad judgement.

When children insist that they have a right to do their own thing as a declaration of their independence, we can only tell them that they are confused about what independence and dependence are. As adults, we must know the difference and be able to relate this difference to children. Most importantly, we want them to understand the difference between addicted dependence and inverted dependence. Addicted dependence is the inability to make a move without the permission of others. Inverted dependence means acceptance of other people's ideas and rights along with your own.

Children need to know that being independent is a marvellous thing as long as we understand the need to balance. When we sense the importance of our personhood, we can function with independence. When we feel that we are the only important people to be considered, independence will isolate us from all others and even from ourselves. That is why the school tries to teach children that independence, carried to its extreme, always isolates.

The ultimate test for children who continue to insist on doing their own thing is to ask them whether they really mean what they say. If they do, then they must forego all dependence on other people. They would have to reinvent the wheel. That is why we try to teach children at school that no one is, or can be, an island.

It is through giving that all people grow. We do not teach addicted dependence, but inverted dependence. It is within this framework that the key to meaningful and successful living resides. This lesson has to be taught at home as well.

Our mission is clear. We can only build healthy independence if we know how to promote inverted dependence in our schools. Then, our children will feel that they can, indeed, do their own thing - within the limits of common sense. We will have helped them know how to weigh and balance in order to use good judgement. It is within the gentle frame of good judgement that all freedom lies.

This is a lesson we need to teach both at home and school.

It is my hope that the Board will peruse the attached material.....