Boardroom Briefs

February 12, 2020 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

Trustee Laurie French provided a public report of topics discussed in private session which took place before the public session. Trustee French shared that private session included updates on safe schools, labour and one legal matter with no motions arising

Chair Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan began her report indicating that consultation for government’s annual Grants for Student Needs funding – which represents the bulk of funds that flow to school boards’ – has just wrapped up. The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) has provided significant input on many issues facing public education including more supports and resources in Special Education funding, given the unique complexities of student needs.

She went on to read the following statement: There is exemplary teaching and learning that happens every day in Limestone because of collaborative and caring relationship of our educators, support staff, administrators, families and Trustees who work together to support our students – our reason for being. It is indeed unfortunate that a few individuals continue to request governance review of Board of Trustees despite thorough discussion by this Board, and a report coming forward tonight concerning the potential retainment of an integrity commissioner. This small yet vocal group of people continue to deliberately spread misinformation and false statements, putting the integrity and hard work of all those in Limestone at risk. It is time for us to get back to work and focus on what is most important - student achievement and well-being – and direct our collective energy, expertise and time toward supporting this worthy mission

Director's Report

Director of Education Debra Rantz began her report by acknowledging that it is a challenging time for students, staff and families as rotating strikes continue. She indicated that it can be especially tough for teachers and education workers who find themselves on the picket line rather than in their classrooms supporting their students. During conversations with staff on picket line, the Director and Senior Staff have heard first-hand how they feel supported by Board, how they are proud to be educators and support workers who care deeply for their students and public education. Teachers and education workers have a demanding and important job – giving our students a rich educational experience with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to succeed in life. The Board remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon at the central bargaining table and we will continue to share information with students, families and staff in as timely a manner as possible.

Semester 2 is under way for our secondary students, and they are settling into their new courses, programs and pathways. Recently, the 95th open house of Building Construction Internship Program, the Director had the privilege of talking with students about valuable skills they will carry as they continue into apprenticeships or the workplace. She is proud of the multiple pathways the Board provides our students.

Limestone secondary students performed extremely well at the recent DECA provincial competition. DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. Students from KCVI, LCVI, Bayridge Secondary School and Frontenac Secondary School were among 6,000 young leaders participating in this competition. Almost one-third of KCVI’s delegation and one LCVI student have qualified for the international competition to be held in April in Nashville, Tennessee. This is a significant achievement. The Limestone team captured many other medals, awards and top-10 finishes.

Presentation: KCVI/QECVI Legacy Project

Trustees received a presentation about how memorabilia from Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI) and the former Queen Elizabeth Collegiate & Vocational Institute (QECVI) is being handled for the new Kingston Secondary School from Teacher Librarian Joanne Whitfield and Archivist Emily Welsh.

A Legacy Project Committee was formed with current and former staff. Grants were secured from variety of sources to hire two Queen’s students to serve as archivists. An inventory was begun that is nearing completion.

The inventory includes the Morris Borenko Collection. Morris began high school at KCVI, moved to QECVI on its opening and was its first head boy. Collection includes a program from opening ceremonies of QECVI, a KCVI "At Home" dance photo. One of the oldest items was uncovered about five years ago - a student letter of apology from 1851. There are also several physical objects as well including chisels, and old microscopes.

Once the inventory is complete, the team will decide what will go into new school, what can be adequately preserved, what will provide historical relevance/learning to current students, what will be offered to local museums etc.

OPSBA Report

Trustee Laurie French provided a brief update from the Ontario Public School Boards' Association indicating that a significant amount of advocacy work has been occurring provincially.

She shared that Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding submissions from OPSBA were submitted as well as LDSB's submission which outlined about priority funding for staffing, mental health and school accommodation. Trustee French shared that there is much documentation on this advocacy work available to trustees and constituents on the OPSBA website.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustees Annika Putnam and Jessica Crook provided the following report.

Trustee Crook had the opportunity to attend the Climate Action Committee meeting where she represented the students’ perspective on the use of funding for climate action projects within Limestone schools. She then asked InterSchool Council members for their thoughts on the projects and what climate action may already be occurring in their schools. They thought the program would be very beneficial to Limestone schools and would like to know if the Limestone Learning Foundation would like to offer a $1000 grant to Interschool Council to divide the money evenly among the urban and rural high schools.

Trustee Crook also continued her work as Co-Chair for the OSTA-AECO Advocacy Working Group in creating a handbook about IEPs – Individualized Education Plans – which will allow students with IEPs to have a better understanding of what supports are available to them. The group is currently speaking with students who have IEPs about their knowledge of their IEP and how it has benefited them in their learning. Statements from these anonymous students will be used in the handbook.

Trustee Putnam reported that she and Trustee Crook chaired the first InterSchool council meeting of 2020 and used most of our meeting to discuss ideas for their upcoming InterSchool event. They decided on a multi-activity event where teams from schools can compete for points in each station with the winner collecting the most by the end of the event. These teams will have the opportunity to create team names and themes which will drive the spirit of the event. The event will most likely take place during either the last week of April or the first week of May.

The 2020 Limestone Student Trustee election will take place on May 4, 2020. Trustees Crook and Putnam will soon begin to raise awareness among students about their roles as well as the new Indigenous Student Trustee role. The application for Indigenous Student Trustee will mirror the process for the Urban and Rural Student Trustees. We will share more updates on this in coming meetings.

Report for Information: Indigenous Education

Superintendent of Education Krishna Burra provided an update based on request for further information related to spending of Indigenous funding at January 15, 2020 Board Meeting.

    Initiatives related to Indigenous Education are reported to Trustees through the Strategic Plan twice per year, and at different times during the term of the Board. During the past year, there have been eight different reports.

    On annual basis, Trustees receive financial information regarding Ministry funding, including funds to support Indigenous Education. Both finance staff and staff responsible for supporting Indigenous programming submit reports to the Ministry at several points during year. Annually in the fall, staff responsible for Indigenous Education programming in Limestone seek feedback and input from Indigenous Education Advisory Council. Using the feedback and input, staff operationalize initiatives within required parameters provided by the Ministry.

    The Ministry requires funding be utilized in four areas: i) Supporting Students, ii) Supporting Educators, iii) Engagement and Awareness Building, and iv) Using Data to Support Student Achievement.

    Priority/Partnership Funding (PPF) funding of $100K to support Indigenous Student Success & Re-engagement position in LDSB was eliminated by Ministry for 2019-2020. Carryover Per Pupil Amount from 2018-19 will be used to offset loss of funding so position can be maintained. For 2020-2021, short of reinstatement of the PPF, this position will need to be absorbed as part of the PPA.

    A sub-group from Indigenous Education Advisory Council continues to work on draft Terms of Reference to transition the Council into a formal Board Committee. And Indigenous Student Trustee will be selected as part of Student Trustee selection process this spring

    Report for Information: Integrity Commissioner

    Superintendent of Business Craig Young provided this report as requested at the last Board meeting in lieu of a governance review.

    Practice of employing integrity commissioners in municipal sector is long standing, introduction of integrity commissioners in education sector is relatively new. There are currently 5 of 72 school boards utilizing services of integrity commissioner.

    Integrity commissioner is usually accountable to and reports directly to Board of Trustees. Their primary responsibility is usually to investigate and assess complaints regarding possible breaches of the Trustee’s Code of Conduct. The Integrity Commissioner’s responsibilities may also include: opinions on board policy, educational programs on ethics and integrity issues and maintain files on inquiries and complaints.

    Integrity commissioners often have a legal designation and extensive experience in arbitration, mediation, labour relations and human rights. The fees for this type of experience and expertise is typical to that of senior lawyers in a large law practice. Integrity commissioner retained as a consultant may include a retainer with fees for billable hours for work completed. Difficult to estimate the exact cost as number of complaints and complexity of investigations that will be the cost drivers.

    Due to confidentiality clauses, detailed info was not available in most cases. However, York Region DSB released an information report in October 2019 detailing 2018-2019 costs at about $121,000. Expected hourly rate could vary between $275 - $500 per hour.

    Trustee Discussion:

    Trustees Joy Morning and Bob Godkin requested additional information including possibility of sharing of a municipal integrity commissioner and other options. Trustee Tom Gingrich says the cost is overwhelming to him. Trustee Laurie French says that regardless of how rate is calculated, she wants to know where this fit into budget - she does not want to see funds taken out of classroom.

    Subsequent Request for Information:

    Later in the agenda under Requests for Information, Trustees discussed a second report on an integrity commissioner. Trustee Morning indicated she would like an additional report on sharing integrity commissioner and/or having LDSB ombudsman. Trustee Godkin clarified he wants a specific inquiry to City of Kingston and possibility of sharing. Chair Ruttan asked for will of Board about asking staff to complete a subsequent report. The request fails 5-4. No further report will be provided.

    Report for Information: Selection of the Director

    Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided report based on information from Superintendent Young on the Selection Process for the New Director of Education following the retirement of current Director Debra Rantz in August.

    The Selection of Director of Education is outlined in Board Policy 17 and includes retainment of consultant to assist in organizing the screening and selection process. Director's Selection Committee shall review, rank and short‐list candidates to be interviewed by the Board.

    The Selection Committee consists of the Committee of the Whole and the Consultant. Consultant may also be asked by the Selection Committee to conduct reference checks, assist in contract development and provide debriefing sessions for unsuccessful candidates. There are a number of executive search firms in province that specialize in recruitment of school board senior staff, including directors. In keeping with Broader Public Sector procurement directives, formal Request for Proposal process will obtain proposals from search firms.

    Trustees approved the RFP for Selection of Director.

    Report for Information: School-Year Calendar

    Associate Superintendent Scot Gillam provided update to January 29, 2020 Education Policy & Operations Committee Meeting where staff recommended earlier start due to late Labour Day. Provincial regulations require school year start on or after September 1 and end on or before June 30.

    Every school year shall include min of 194 school days. To meet required 194 days and maintain integrity of Professional Activity Days, school must begin prior to Labour Day. Also, three boards in Tri-Board Student Transportation consortium (LDSB, HPEDSB and ALCDSB) have agreed upon common calendar to share costs.

    Two options were presented: PA Day on August 31 with students starting Sept. 1 or PA Day on September 1 with students starting on September 2. Meeting with co-terminus boards and stakeholders and survey of families to seek feedback. More than 2,700 people responded to online survey. Sixty-one per cent of survey respondents and HPEDSB and ALCDSB indicated a preference for PA Day on August 31 with students starting September. 1. This is recommendation for approval.

    Recommendation passed. Calendar will now be submitted to Ministry by March 1 for approval.

    Appointment to Special Education Advisory Committee

    Associate Superintendent Alison McDonnell presented report on Appointment of Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Member for 2019-2022. Provincial regulations state that every school board shall establish special education advisory committee that shall consist of one representative from each local association that operates within area of jurisdiction of the board to no more than 12 representatives. Currently there are eight organizations represented. Easter Seals Ontario has nominated Candace Roberts for representation on LDSB SEAC. Staff recommend that the Board appoint Candace Roberts as the SEAC member representative for Easter Seals. Trustees approved the appointment as presented.

    Request for Information: Trustee Expenses & Professional Development

    Trustee Laurie French requests a report on the current professional development budget for trustees for the next Education Policy & Operations Committee. She would like to review current expenditures to inform policy discussion on how to equitably share the funds across trustees. Chair Ruttan asked for will of Board. The request for a report carries.

    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.