December 9, 2020 Caucus and Initial Board Meetings
Trustees elect new executive for 2020-2021 term
Chair of the Board
Suzanne Ruttan, Trustee representing Township of South Frontenac.
Board of Trustees
The current nine-member Limestone District School Board of Trustees will serve until November 30, 2022.
Vice-Chair of Board
Tom Gingrich, Trustee representing Kingscourt-Rideau & King’s Town districts, City of Kingston.
Board of Trustees
Chair Ruttan and Trustee Garrett Elliott were both nominated for the role of Chair of the Board. Trustees Gingrich and Trustee Robin Hutcheon were nominated for the Vice-Chair position. Trustees vote for the positions by secret ballot. Trustees elect a Chair and Vice- Chair each year of their four-year mandate.
This is Chair Ruttan’s third term as Chair. She was first elected to the Limestone District School Board in October 2010 as the representative for the Township of South Frontenac. She served as Vice-Chair of the Board for the 2017-2018 school year and Chair for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.
Vice-Chair Gingrich, who represents the Kingscourt-Rideau & King’s Town districts, was first elected in 2018. He serves as the Trustee representative of The Food Sharing Project Board of Directors and has served as the alternate Limestone representative on the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. In his new role, Vice-Chair Gingrich will chair the Education Policy and Operations Committee.
Trustees also selected their committee roles for the 2020-2021 term.
Chair's Initial Address
Chair Suzanne Ruttan stated it is a privilege to serve as Chair of the Limestone District School Board. She said she will continue to serve and fulfill her duties as Chair with integrity and mutual respect for students, staff, each other, and the broader communities we serve.
She said that although there are many uncertainties about COVID-19, as we enter 2021, the health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff will remain the Board’s top priority. The Chair reminded Trustees it is important to remember the landscape of public education in Ontario is ever-changing much like the world in which we live. The responsibility of Trustees is to maintain and enhance public education across the district through governance and advocacy.
As the Board formulates policy, approves operating and capital budgets, and monitors the Strategic Plan, Trustees remain focused on ensuring every student succeeds academically and personally in a safe and inclusive environment.
Chair Ruttan said Limestone has started the necessary and critical work of confronting anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. The LDSB Equity Action Plan is one of many steps the Board is taking to work toward a more equitable district. Schools need to be places where everyone values diversity, respects each other, and sees themselves reflected in their learning, school and classroom environment. We know there is a lot of work to do in our system, and in our communities.
The responsibility for ensuring the best possible outcomes for all students rests with everyone: families, school councils, community partners, employees, Senior Staff, and Trustees. Trustees recognize the commitment of everyone in this regard, so that everyone sees themselves in Limestone!
Trustees will continue to advocate for public education through membership in the Ontario Public School Boards Association. Working collaboratively with staff and Limestone communities ensures students have expanding opportunities, in all pathways, to help them achieve success and well-being. As a new term begins, we must all remain committed to working collaboratively to meet these objectives, together.
In closing, Chair Ruttan extended appreciation to staff, families, and school communities for the outstanding efforts on behalf of all students this past year….for everyone’s patience and flexibility as the district responded, adapted and developed new ways of teaching, learning and working, amidst the ongoing pandemic.
As the holiday season approaches, Chair Ruttan hopes that everyone finds happiness in what they can do with family and friends, and that we will be able to share special times together when it is possible to do so.
ANNUAL REPORT TO THE LIMESTONE DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD ON ACTIVITIES OF SPECIAL COMMITTEES
Special Committee: Parent Involvement Committee
In February 2020, Crystal Bevens-Leblanc was elected as the Co-chair of PIC, joining Sabena Islam. Trustees Elliott and Hutcheon, Vice-Chair of the Board Laurie French, and Director Debra Rantz were also in attendance. At this meeting, Jennifer Kehoe and Janza Giangrosso presented their findings from the Indigenous Family Circle and made a request that Indigenous representation on School Councils be made a top priority moving forward.
In March 2020, the PIC meeting was held at LCVI two days before the March Break and the school closure that followed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this meeting, many questions were raised about learning through a global pandemic. Other topics included a PIC response to Ministry funding cuts, as well as the creation of two subcommittees: By-law and Engagement.
In May 2020, a virtual meeting was held with many business items deferred to the new school year. Further discussion was centered on the pandemic and remote learning that were either addressed during the meeting or provided to other Senior Staff for responses.
In August 2020, another virtual meeting was held. Once again, the meeting was dedicated to the pandemic and school re-entry. The Outreach Committee was established to ensure that all School Advisory Councils were connected during this time.
In October 2020, Associate Superintendent Sartor replaced Associate Superintendent Gillam as the Director’s designate on PIC. A presentation on holding space for Indigenous Family Members on School Advisory Councils was shared and PIC voted to recommend updating Administrative Procedure 110 to include language related to an Indigenous Family Member representative. Updated PIC by-laws were shared and a vote to update the by-laws as written was passed.
In November 2020, Finance Manager Myra Baumann shared a presentation about parent engagement funding. Jason Quenneville, Experiential Learning consultant, and Rebecca Smith from Skills Ontario, shared information related to employment in the Trades. A discussion also elicited ideas for several working groups including identifying barriers for parent engagement, and a possible spring symposium or speaker series. Additional meetings were added in January and April 2021. At these meetings, presentations will be the focus. February and May meetings will remain as opportunities for system/community updates and discussing arising business. Finally, Co-chair Shayla Bradley was acclaimed.
Two additional presentations were held in November: 1) Navigating Special Education and 2) School Advisory Council Chair Workshop. These presentations offered information and support to parents and community. Both workshops were well received.
Trustee Elliott reported that with increased engagement and participation comes the need to ensure that PIC agenda items and information shared with School Advisory Councils and potentially, the Board, are system based and are founded in the PIC mandate and goals. Student achievement and wellness, and improving School Councils’ ability to assist with this needs to be the focal point of activities. With changes to PRO Grants and Ministry funding, PIC will need to look at innovative ways to help School Advisory Councils with their own engagement activities.
A goal for the upcoming year is to continue to encourage engagement virtually, so that more parents and community members can participate in the meetings with a focus to support the development of the virtual schools, within the Limestone District School Board. PIC will continue to work to ensure that each and every school is represented at the PIC level. Committee members are proud of the increase in active participation and membership.
Trustees accepted this report as information.
Special Committee: Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL)
She stated that Supervised Alternative Learning approves alternate opportunities for students aged 14 – 17 who are having difficulty attending school and achieving success. Alternate learning includes work placements, volunteering, development of work skills, credit and non-credit courses, certifications and training.
During the period of December 2019 to November 2020, 11 students were approved for SAL programming. Numbers for SAL saw a decline this year, due to COVID-19 as meetings and the approval of SALs were suspended from April to September 2020. The success rate for the SAL program during this time for students remaining engaged in their program remained stable at 82%. The SAL Committee continued to use the SAL Student Record to track and record progress at regular intervals throughout the year, including February and September. The Committee also appreciated the inclusion of Melissa Baker-Cox on the Committee. Melissa is the Pathways for Student Success Coordinator. Melissa is instrumental in assisting the Committee in ensuring that Student Success and the tracking of supports through MyBlueprint is discussed during the approval process.
Trustee Brown said SAL will continue to monitor the success rate for SAL students and continue to track and report on the number of SAL referrals that are renewed. They will also continue to track and monitor the number of credits earned by SAL students.
Supervised Alternative Learning is mandated through the Ministry of Education. Information related to the number of students involved in SAL, number of credits attempted and earned, number of certifications and frequency of volunteering is reported to the Ministry of Education twice a year through the Taking Stock Report. The SAL Committee will continue to explore how student voice can be facilitated during the SAL application process and for consideration after the SAL has concluded. The SAL Committee will also explore the use of MyBlueprint to support SAL students in completing their approved programs. Finally, the SAL Committee is committed to ensuring that all students who require Supervised Alternative Learning, including those opting for the Virtual School, will have their opportunity through the completion of their approved programs and active tracking through the SAL Student Record.
Trustees accepted this report as information.
She reiterated that the OPSBA Board of Directors unanimously supported the idea of conducting an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion audit to determine the best approach to combatting systemic racism and oppressive practices. OPSBA is now working to operationalize the motion.
The OPSBA Indigenous Education Council met and several LDSB Trustees attended.
Trustee French reviewed various correspondence and submissions, including a response to the government's Bill for COVID recovery support, and PPM 164 regarding engaging staff with respect to remote learning. OPSBA will seek Input on Grants for Students' Needs (GSNs) from member school boards in the coming year.
Trustee French outlined some of the programming for the upcoming Public Education Symposium, and stated it will be offered virtually.
Director Burra said while this year has been dominated by COVID-19, it has been remarkable to see how students, staff, and families have adapted to the current reality. Although safety and wellness continues to be the priority, learning is happening. The daily efforts of bus drivers, teachers, ECEs, EAs, custodians, ITS staff, maintenance staff, clerical staff, and administrators have been inspiring to see on a daily basis. He added it is important to find light in the positive stories we can see in schools and in the system on a daily and weekly basis.
He highlighted several system-level initiatives that illustrate the care and compassion shown for Limestone communities:
- The Limestone Learning Foundation provided a $100,000 donation to the Food Sharing Project in acknowledgement of the significant food security concerns seen in schools and the broader community;
- Limestone staff donated over $50,000 to the 2020 United Way campaign;
- The first student census with equity-based data collection was introduced. Data will be shared later this school year; and
- Kingston Secondary School opened to students December 15, 2020. The Director shared a video highlighting the KSS site.
Director Burra also acknowledged Student Trustee Quadir's participation in a virtual tour that gave students a view of the new school building just prior to in-person class tours.
He concluded his report with Seasons Greetings to all, and extended appreciation to staff, students and their families for all of the dedicated and significant work completed under challenging circumstances in 2020.
REPORTS FOR INFORMATION
Director's Annual Report 2019 - 2020
The Report may be viewed at seeyourselfinlimestone.ca and will be submitted to Ministry of Education in compliance with the January 31, 2021 deadline.
Notices of Motion Requiring Decision
Two motions were brought forward as Notices of Motion at the November 11, 2020 Regular Board Meeting. Trustee Laurie French reviewed the motions:
Motion 1: Moved by Trustee Brown and seconded by Trustee French, that as part of the continued Strategic Plan progress aligned within the Wellness Pillar, section 2.2 Equity and Inclusion, the Board requests LDSB staff undertake to engage the Black community in Limestone DSB, be it in consultation or an ongoing caucus to be formed similar to the Indigenous Advisory Council, to provide input and advice on actions to address racism in our schools, and barriers to equitable experience.
Motion 2: Moved by Trustee Brown and seconded by Trustee French, that following the planned survey, the Board requests staff update Trustees on the plan for use of racialized achievement data for Limestone DSB students, with a focus on the results of Black and Indigenous students, to inform strategies to improve their experience and learning outcomes.
Trustee French indicated the Limestone DSB Equity Action Plan will move some of this important work forward but these motions highlight specific items that can be completed now.
Trustee Judith Brown recognized the Action Plan includes the engagement of Black students and families but would like to see it formalized. She added the Limestone DSB needs Black-affirming learning and experiences embedded into the system. Trustee Brown added the Board needs to equip students with critical consciousness to combat anti-Black racism.
Trustees passed both motions unanimously.
External Reports & Other Communication
There was much discussion amongst Trustees about the timing of the RFP during a pandemic, whether or not the RFP can be deferred or rejected by Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, a consortium that provides service to all school boards in the region. Staff replied that Tri-Board must follow provincial legislation.
Chair Ruttan clarified that school boards have no power to halt a RFP process as it is legislated. She suggested Trustees could write a letter in support of community concerns about the RFP process.
Director Burra explained there are timelines that must be followed and cautions that any deferral could affect future delivery of transportation. The Board must ensure process is in place for the next school year to ensure transportation.
Following Trustee queries, the Director said he would reach out to Limestone's co-terminous boards to determine their intent.
Trustee McGregor proposed a motion to write a letter to the government. The Board moved into private session to discuss legal matters related to this issue. When Public Session resumed, Vice-Chair Gingrich provided a public report that a legal matter was discussed with no decisions being made.
Trustee McGregor put forth the following motion for Trustees' consideration:
MOTION: Moved by Trustee McGregor and seconded by Trustee Hutcheon, that given the current pandemic and its financial implications for many small businesses, including small bus operators, we request the Chair of the Board write a letter to the Minister of Education reflecting the community concerns with respect to the Tri-Board Student Transportation Services plan to proceed with a RFP for student transportation services. We do understand that in the absence of any legislative or regulatory changes, or the granting of an exemption or deferral, Tri-Board Student Transportation is required to proceed with a competitive procurement process.
The MOTION passed unanimously.
Chair Ruttan indicated there was no further business. She wished everyone a happy holiday and the meeting was adjourned.