Boardroom Briefs

January 13, 2021 Meeting of LDSB Board of Trustees

Boardroom Briefs is intended to provide highlights of presentations, reports and decisions made at the regular meeting of the Limestone District School Board of Trustees. These briefs do not serve as the official record of the meeting. Please refer to Board minutes which are approved at the next regular meeting. Community members are also invited to follow along during live tweets of regular Board meetings using the hashtag #LDSBmtg.

Private Session Update

Vice Chair Tom Gingrich provided a public report on topics discussed in private session which is held prior to Public Session. The minutes from the following meetings were approved: Board Meeting November 11, and Initial Board Meeting December 9, 2020. Trustees received updates on safe schools, labour, and brief OPSBA update. No other items were discussed or subject to a motion.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan applauded staff, students and families for their resilience in starting the new year learning remotely. She said she is confident everyone can continue to adjust and adapt in an effort to keep students, staff and the larger community safe and healthy during this current provincial school closure.

She acknowledged that families are dealing with a lot right now. Many Limestone staff are also balancing work while supporting their own children learning from home.

Chair Ruttan, on behalf of all Trustees, thanked the extraordinary efforts of staff as they continue to provide essential supports for students in new and different ways during the pandemic. For example, the complex work undertaken by Educational Services to transition students with exceptional special education needs and those accessing School to Community services back to face-to-face learning.

The Chair concluded her report by stating that as Trustees work together with Limestone's community over the next few months their responsibility, and challenge, is to maintain and improve public education across the school district in their important role as governors of the Board.

Director's Update

Director of Education Krishna Burra stated that 2021 has started with staff and students moving to a remote learning format due to provincial direction, adding that Limestone remains agile in continuing to serve students, families, and staff.

He reported more than 17,000 students and their educators moved from in-person instruction to remote learning. This transition is never simple, but it was smoother given the district's experience last spring. To help support students, the Board distributed 3,300 additional devices and 165 hotspots for internet.

Director Burra said he is greatly impressed by the resilience and innovation of staff in transitioning to remote learning and the support provided to students by educators and support staff. This included enduring some internet outages that limited connectivity for many educators and students across province.

During this current closure, the Ministry of Education directed all school boards to provide an in-person learning option to a limited population of learners: those students with significant special education needs who cannot be accommodated in remote learning. Approximately 220 students are currently attending select schools across the district.

Limestone is planning for a return to classrooms for in-person learners and staff on Monday, January 25, but based on changing health circumstances and data, this date may change. The Board will receive further direction by January 20, 2021. The Director added that all school boards await further information related to recent announcements impacting schools when they resume, full in-person learning.

Staff continue to do they best they can and adapt to changing circumstances. He concluded his report by saying Limestone's service to students and communities requires a system to support the work, and he is extremely proud of the efforts of all Limestone District School Board employees.

Presentation on Limestone Virtual School

Program consultants Jackie Decker and Pricia Evans presented Trustees with an overview of virtual school including platforms, sample lessons, and student success supports.

The following statistics were provided for virtual school:

Elementary Virtual School:

  • 1305 students
  • 6 EAs, 9 ECEs, 83 teachers, 1 SST
  • 2 administrators
  • all subjects are taught

Secondary Virtual School:

  • 612 students
  • 23 teachers, Success Team, Guidance Support
  • 1 administrator
  • Timetable includes courses in all subject areas

2 Office Administrators support Virtual School

Staff supporting virtual school have worked hard to build community. Ms. Decker provided examples of what that looks like in virtual school, including morning announcements and sharing of student work, etc.

Images of school Twitter posts showing what virtual learning looks like.
Virtual learning platforms being used by educators include Minds Online, D2L and MS Teams. Ms. Decker said D2L teachers are able to customize their course to meet both their, and students' needs. Students can get their work from teachers, hand in their work to teachers, get feedback, and can also include announcements, videos and links to other resources. MS Teams is used mostly for synchronous learning but also as a class platform to assign work, to have students hand in work and is very similar to D2L.

Learning at secondary virtual school includes many of the same high yield strategies used during in-person classrooms, like opportunities for students to collaborate with each other in large and small groups and with the teacher.

The program team has provided resources and supports for the system relating to virtual learning that can be used online as well as professional learning and coaching with virtual teachers. The focus at the beginning was with IT supports and trying to understand where students were at by developing and supporting with diagnostics. The focus now at the elementary level is on learning in literacy and math with virtual school teachers. In secondary, supports for educators are mostly on an individual basis or in small group coaching.

Student success supports replicate what students would receive as in-person learners.

All Educational Services supports and programming are provided virtually, excluding speech language and psycho-educational assessments. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) continue to be developed and implemented. Supports for virtual learners remain connected to home-schools when possible. New funding has allowed for additional supports.

Image of the student success model.

OPSBA Report

Trustee French indicated there was no update of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) as the Board of Directors' next meeting is February. She added that work is proceeding on a review of the constitution, policies and procedures as well as a strategic planning process. The annual Public Education Symposium will be held virtually January 28, 2021.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustee Annika Putnam said students are using social media to connect with each other, to share information and run events like virtual spirit weeks, virtual announcements, cooking contests, and school clubs. Students are looking forward to the first Limestone-wide Gay, Straight Alliance virtual meeting January 19 for all LGBTQ2S+ students and allies.

Student Trustee Namirah Quadir thanked staff, educators, and families for their ongoing and tremendous support of student success and mental health. She has spoken with various students about the transition to online learning and although online cannot compare to in-class learning, students appreciate how everyone is striving to make it as engaging and inclusive as possible for all students. She stated that we are still in a pandemic, but we are better equipped now than we were last year to learn together, and even more importantly, to support one another.

Student Trustee Quanah Traviss shared that his peers in the Board’s Indigenous community are working to compile a list of opportunities, scholarships, and resources aimed at Indigenous students who plan on going to post-secondary next year. Student Trustees Traviss and Quadir recently attended the district's first Indigenous Student Drop In, which was done virtually.

Student Trustees are excited to start preparing for the upcoming LDSB Student Trustee elections in April, something the three of them are very excited to promote and support in the next couple of months.

Reports Requiring Decisions

Administrative Report: Board Policy Review

At the October 2020 Committee of Whole Board (EPOC) meeting, Trustees reviewed several policies and made some revisions. Trustees also passed a motion for the Director of Education to obtain a quote for a parliamentarian to review and provide recommendations regarding format, content and/or alignment of policies.

Director Burra reported that given the Board’s previous work with Lori Lukinuk regarding parliamentary procedures and distinguishing between policies and bylaws, a quote was sought from her regarding follow up services focused on LDSB policies. Director Burra stated the process would include two to four meetings over three to four months in order to review existing policies, determine and review revisions, and approve changes with an estimated cost of $3,500.

After further questions and discussion, Trustees passed the following motions:

MOTION 1: The Director, Chair, and Vice-Chair engage with Ms. Lukinuk and schedule the review process outlined in this report to revise Policies 7-12, and agree to the terms of Ms.

Lukinuk’s fee for her services.

MOTION 2. The Board agenda setting committee discuss next steps for revision of policies 3 and 17 separately from policy work with Ms. Lukinuk, and bring a plan and/or draft revisions

back to Trustees at a later date.

Administrative Report: Multi-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan

Superintendent of Business Services Craig Young introduced the plan stating that more than $26M have been identified, in what Superintendent Young calls an aggressive plan. The Multi-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan highlights school renewal project activities under the following project types:

  • Heating/Mechanical Systems Energy/Controls
  • Site Improvements
  • Code/Regulatory
  • Security
  • Electrical/Lighting
  • Communication Systems
  • Accessibility
  • Small Capital
  • Building Envelope (e.g. Roofing, Windows, Doors, Structure)

Manager of Facility Services Dave Fowler and Capital Planning Supervisor Charlyn Downie reviewed details of the plan. The Capital and School Renewal Project Plan is based upon the VFA Building Condition reports for all schools; assessing local needs with school staff, analysis from maintenance work orders; knowledge from facilities trades and maintenance staff, and expertise from engineering and other consultants.

The Multi‐Year Capital Plan included an updated 2020‐2021 listing of $21,098,019 projects by school or various schools. Project work estimates were based upon the best available project scope and costing information at the time of evaluation.

If the COVID‐19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of funding is approved, the projects listed below will be implemented in 2020‐2021 school year.
Image of school projects for implementation in 2020‐2021 school year.

For the 2021‐2022 to 2030‐2031 school years, the 10‐year plan included an estimated $4,500,000 in proposed annual school renewal project activity (e.g. interiors, electrical, lighting, plumbing, to name a few) per year based upon prior year Ministry funding levels. This plan may/will change to reflect actual Ministry school renewal funding levels when announced.

After further questions and discussion, Trustees passed the following motions:

MOTION 1: Approve the Multi‐Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan

MOTION 2: That a revised copy of the 10‐Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan be posted on the Board’s website.

Internal Reports and Other Communications

2019-2020 Food Sharing Project Annual Report

Vice-Chair Tom Gingrich spoke to the Food Sharing Project Annual Report. He said 2750 food boxes were distributed in 2020, helping 650 families, representing approximately 2000 people. These efforts were supported in part by a significant donation of $100K from the Limestone Learning Foundation

Chair Ruttan indicated there was no further business and the meeting was adjourned.

Upcoming Board Meetings

Wednesday, January 27, 2021: Committee of the Whole (Education, Policy & Operations)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021: Regular Meeting of the Board

Limestone District School Board

The Board serves more than 19,000 elementary and secondary students in 60 schools and 8 education centres covering a geographic area of 7,719 square kilometres. To get in touch with your trustee, visit Meet Your Trustees.