March 30, 2022 Meeting of the 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.

Each meeting, a different Trustee will present the Indigenous Acknowledgement of Territory and include their own personal reflections.

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Presentation: eLearning in Limestone and Ontario eLearning Consortium (OELC)

Associate Superintendent Hedderson, Principal Bryan Lambert, and Teacher Consultant Mark Lee provided an update on eLearning in Limestone and the Ontario eLearning Consortium (OELC).

LDSB students have access to a variety of eLearning courses throughout the regular school year, as well as during Summer Session. As a member of the Ontario eLearning Consortium, LDSB students can take eLearning courses offered by approximately 29 other school boards around the province. Students use the Ontario Ministry of Education’s D2L Brightspace, which in Limestone, is called Minds Online. Staff interact with each course daily, posting new content, communicating with students (e.g., video messages, email, message posts, etc.), and assessing student work. Students interact with course material daily, that works with their schedule.

Students have access to courses offered by Limestone District School Board, as well as courses offered by other Boards within the Ontario eLearning Consortium.

There are a little over 800 students participating in eLearning courses in Ontario, with 322 LDSB students enrolled in courses offered by other Boards within the Ontario eLearning Consortium, and 328 Ontario eLearning Consortium students enrolled in LDSB eLearning courses that are being offered. There is a total of 194 LDSB students enrolled in LDSB eLearning course offerings.

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Schools are working on finishing up course selections, and if courses aren’t going to be available in the 2022-2022 school year, students can look at the LDSB eLearning catalogue, or through the consortium to find the courses they are looking for.
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Private Session

Vice Chair Gingrich called upon to Rise and Report from Private Session. Private session minutes were approved, Superintendent Young provided an labour update, Trustee French provided a OPSBA labour update, Associate Superintendent Gollogly provided a Safe Schools update, and Director Burra provided a personnel update. No other business was conducted, or motions passed. The report was accepted.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report:

“Despite Trustees’ request to the Minister of Education and Public Health to extend masking requirements in schools for two weeks following March Break, and initial concerns with how students, families and staff would transition to the lifting of COVID protocols, school communities are adjusting to the changes. We have experienced many changes throughout the pandemic, and Limestone has done so with empathy and kindness.

Students, staff, and visitors are still expected to screen daily for COVID symptoms and stay home if they are ill. And, as per Public Health guidance, vaccination remains the best defense against COVID-19.

Students and staff may choose to continue to wear masks at times, or consistently for the remainder of the school year. The Ministry has made it clear that masks will be available for students and staff for the balance of this school year. It’s important to support every student’s (and family’s) decision around masking.

Respecting others’ decisions and modeling empathy will help create environments in which all students feel safe.

I think there is a feeling that we are returning to what feels like a more normal existence. The lifting of restrictions has meant that Limestone was able to move forward with the KASSAA finals for Basketball, Volleyball and Hockey this week. Our sincere thanks to all those involved with organizing these finals and to our partner St. Lawrence College for hosting the Basketball and Volleyball finals. Being able to welcome spectators back, has been welcomed by the communities we serve. Congratulations to all finalists, and much appreciation to the volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen. A welcome return to some normal activities, and school spirit has been on full display.

On behalf of all Trustees, I would like to thank those who participated in the Board’s Budget Survey. The information will assist the Board throughout the budget process, which we begin in earnest next month.

The new distribution for trustee representation in the City of Kingston was accepted by the Board tonight as part of the Minutes from the Special EPOC Meeting held March 23rd.

The changes mean an equalization of the electoral population across City districts and creating new groupings of schools to ensure every Trustee represents a high school. This updated distribution with the new areas will be used for the upcoming municipal election October 24. The first day to file a nomination paper for School Board Trustees, the offices of Mayor, and Councilors is Monday, May 2, 2022. The Limestone website will be updated shortly with information to support interested candidates.

And finally, as we await the arrival of spring, and warmer temperatures, I hope students, families, and staff gain much needed energy and optimism as we round the corner to the final months of this school year.

And that concludes my report.”

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Student Trustee Report

Student Trustees Roy, Johnson and Duncan provided the Student Trustee Report:

Trustee Roy provided an update on the Water for Awareness fundraiser, focusing on raising proceeds and awareness for the Water Crisis on Indigenous Reserves. Trustee Roy thanked schools for all the money raised so far - $2,000 amongst four schools.

A focus on Youth Homelessness will be the focus moving forward, and Trustee Johnson is gathering information about a potential partnership with UNICEF Queen’s.

Director's Report

Director Burra provided the following report:

“Good evening, Trustees and the viewing public. As the viewing public will notice, we have continued to make significant changes to the Boardroom at Limestone. Given the requirement to continue to stream board meetings moving into the future, these changes are being made to improve the sound and visual quality of the experience. In addition, the technical improvements will improve our ability to provide quality, virtual or hybrid, professional learning for staff for years to come. With the adoption of new systems, there are occasional growing pains. As staff become more comfortable and experienced with the new equipment and software, technical issues or concerns should subside.

Given we have met on a weekly basis for several weeks, the agenda this evening includes fewer reports, but several additional minutes from recent meetings. This evening trustees will hear more about the Ontario e-learning consortium, current initiatives in Indigenous Education, and obviously there are several motions on the agenda for discussion and decision.

While COVID-19 continues to impact schools and the world around us, in-person learning, and a range of student activities have successfully continued across Limestone. Planning for 2022-2023 continues and there are lots of examples of great learning occurring in schools daily. I would highlight for trustees that later in April, thanks to the Limestone Learning Foundation, Limestone is hosting two Indigenous speakers to engage virtually with students in the system. On April 25, Sheila Watt- Cloutier will be speaking with students in grades 7-12 focusing on climate change; and on April 28 David Robertson will be speaking with students in grades 3-6 about his book that is part of the LLF Books are Back initiative.

With the provincial direction regarding the easing and removal of some restrictions or protections starting last week, we continue to see change impacting the communities we serve and Limestone schools. As Trustees know, the lifting of restrictions or protections came into effect on March 21 and was met with a range of reactions from students, families, and staff. As we know any form of change can create challenges and we will continue to monitor the impact across Limestone schools. Thus far, we have not seen significant changes in student and staff attendance. However, we have seen a small uptick in student and staff absences in the past couple of school days, but no school to date has hit a 30% threshold of student absences based on illness. That being said, we did contact public health today due to staff absences in one building. This is the first time we have needed to follow up with Public Health regarding absences. At the system level, of the 5 days with the highest number of staff absences in the 8 days prior to the break and 8 days since (16 days total), 3 of the days have been after the break, and 2 were before the break. I would also note from a historical perspective, we did see a couple of similar staff absence numbers in 2019 and 2021 in the two weeks post-March Break. Staffing challenges due to absences have not hit levels we saw prior to the December break, and even at the best of times there is an ebb and flow to staff absences over a week, month, or year. We do continue to see staffing pressures in schools on a regular basis, but thus far we have not seen a dramatic change since the March Break, and this has been an issue throughout this school year. Regarding masking, we have seen many examples of students and staff accepting the personal choices of others related to masking. Given we have only had 8 school days since the provincial changes, we will continue to monitor attendance levels and continue to work with KFL&A Public Health as needed.

As the chair noted, full extracurriculars have resumed in schools and it has been wonderful to see the return of spectators and a revitalization of school spirit related to these activities. I can say personally that I have enjoyed the chance to start seeing my children engage in these activities live after the pause of the past two years. There was a sizeable crowd at St. Lawrence last night watching the basketball finals, just as I am sure there is a good crowd this evening watching the volleyball finals. The changes to public health measures also allow schools to plan for more regular activities in the spring, including graduations.

I think it is fair to say that we need to continue to be mindful of things that we took for granted prior to the pandemic and why so many young people have embraced this return to more normal circumstances. I think it is also important for us to be mindful of changes and innovations that took place during the pandemic that we want to see endure into the future. Limestone is a learning organization, and we must all continue to assess and reflect on the critical work we do to support children and youth in the communities we serve.

That concludes my report.”

Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) Report

Trustee Laurie French provided the following update on the Ontario Public School Board Association Meeting February 25 – 26, 2022:

Presentation - Diversity in Senior School Board Leadership – Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education, DSB Niagara, Jim Costello, ED PCODE

Study by OPSOA/PCODE - hired Tana Turner – detailed racial, gender diversity survey completed – results shared – compared proportion to racialized leaders to cultural minority

  1. Encouraging strategies to reduce barriers for candidates
  2. Consider Board demographic data in succession planning
  3. Determine how leaders can reflect their community demographics

Professional Development- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – Ken Jeffers, OPSBA Associate Director, EDI – slides available:

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Discussion included:

  • Exploring our Social Identities – consider personal inclusions/exclusions, associated feelings
  • Fearlessly interrogates privilege and power imbalances"
  • Equity work is not an event, it’s a process
  • Education Act section 169.1 – fundamental responsibility of boards
  • Building a House Analogy

    Foundation = Anti-oppression
    Building Safety Codes = Human Rights
    Solutions to obstacles = Equity
    Design, function, look, feel = Inclusion
    Final Product = Diversity

Presentation - Ontario eLearning Consortium - Chair OELC Jon Procter, and Coordinator Todd Pottle

  • 22 public and 15 Catholic Boards
  • Remote secondary programming, Con Ed, Adult Ed, Summer school eLearning
  • 8000 up to almost 32,000 course completion per year
  • Each board has a member rep – votes on policies and programming
  • Prism system with course calendar – courses hosted by particular boards

Report - Perceptions of Online Learning during COVID 19 – Researcher David Jack

Indigenous Trustee Council

  • Consultation with Minister on Code of Conduct review

Legislative Update

  • Several new bills introduced - London Families Act – combatting Islamophobia
  • Deliver budget by March 31st
  • GSNs out, awaiting technical paper
  • Meetings related to $10 day care
  • Code of Conduct consultation – unlikely any outcome before Fall
  • Minister provided responses to PES Questions
  • Election platform planning and outreach with all four associations
  • OPSBA Education week planned
  • Municipal elections: OEC resources – candidates guide updated – goal to outreach more racialized and marginalized communities – social media and communications plan internally as well, May 1 nominations for Trustees, PEG reports received – a number of boards frustrated with numbers – last election with MPAC doing lists – next will be Elections Ontario

Education Finance

  • Student Transportation – no big changes – 2% increase not indicated how it will be allocated
  • COVID funding from reserves – limit has been removed
  • Capital priorities – new call for project submissions – due Feb 25
  • GSN 2023 – $26.1 billion - increase of 2.7% - $13,059/student o Supports for students funds – will continue – includes COVID funding: $10 million for student mental health, $7.4 Special Education equipment amount, Salary for Senior Admin 1% now that terms settled (same across all staff groups), Technical details pending

Government Relations and Communications

  • Overview of media statements, releases, and articles
  • Above and Beyond campaign next phase
  • Nominations for Trustees and increasing Diversity – campaign and outreach planned (including CSBA materials) – need to invite and include*
  • Advocacy Day – smaller scale before election, then wait until after provincial election with new government

Program Policy Update

  • Bullying Prevention and Intervention
  • Temporary Teaching certificates
  • Curriculum Modernization
  • Specialist High Skills Major – non-profit sector
  • Discussion on EQAO proceeding or not – can request an exemption of Ministry - field tests done, impact for current cohort – developing new benchmarks and standards – unknown learning loss during COVID

EDI Update

  • Continued action on the recommendations from the EDI Audit

Corporate Affairs Update

  • Award Nominations process review
  • Election planning at AGM
  • Constitution and Bylaw revisions underway as a result of Project Compass
  • Work on Oath of Allegiance
  • Project Compass, with new policies being drafted
  • Roles and Responsibilities Guide


Project Compass Final Report

  • Overview of work, engagement
  • Two important recommendations carried – Final PC recommendations and Communications review – will go to AGM

New OPSBA Policies

  • Policy framework – approved
  • Strategic Planning, Implementation and Monitoring – approved

OPSBA Priorities – Updated Areas and Activity Report

  • Transitioning from the COVID-19 School Experience
  • OPSBA Governance Review (Project Compass)
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Labour Relations
  • Elections and Advocacy

Audited Financial Statements

  • Approved
  • Positive financial position

First Quarter Financial Update

  • Membership fees – letter in summer – final payments coming in from all member boards

CSBA Report

  • Congress in July will proceed in person in Saskatoon in July with a hybrid option
  • Phase 2 anti-racism project with U of Regina – first deliverable will provide promotional materials to invite and include more diverse candidates in Trustee elections – several provinces this year
  • Hiring Indigenous Lead to advance this work directly
  • Education priorities Federal Advocacy event in May on Parliament Hill
  • New National table meeting with partners in March – CTF, CASSA, AFN, CAP, FNCSF

Upcoming meetings

  • April 9 - Regional meetings
  • April 29-30 - BOD in Toronto
  • June 9 - AGM Ottawa

Reports for Information: Indigenous Education

Superintendent Gilliam provided an administrative report regarding Indigenous Education. Every fall, staff responsible for Indigenous Education programming seek feedback and input from the Indigenous Education Advisory Council (IEAC). Staff operationalize initiative using the feedback and input in four main areas: Supporting Students, Supporting Educators, Engagement and Awareness, and Using Data to Support Student Achievement.

Funding for Indigenous Education comes from three primary sources:

  1. First Nations, Metis and Inuit studies courses at the secondary level generate funding based on number of students granted credits.
  2. Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) focused on Indigenous Education, which are protected funds that are used for staffing and the Board Action Plan (BAP).
  3. Priority/Partnership Funding (PPF), if applicable, and depending on the year and provincial initiatives.

Superintendent Gilliam indicated that professional development and initiatives have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and occasional staff shortages, but staff have been able to support a wide range of initiatives. Long term goals of Indigenous Education include the addition of Indigenous Support workers, more elementary supports for Junior/Intermediate engagement concerns, revamping of the self-identification form, and increased student leadership/mentorship opportunities for secondary students.

Indigenous language lessons are making a huge difference across LDSB, and language is also being offered through e-language lessons, bringing the opportunity to more students across Limestone. Current projects include:

  • Anishinaabemowin, Algonquin and Kanyen’keha initiatives continue to be explored in LDSB
  • Virtual, in-person, and experiential language learning opportunities
  • Collaboration with local Indigenous language organizations
  • Ministry projects
  • Exploration of resources and land-based programming
  • Continued engagement with community members and community partners to build and implement more opportunities for students.

“Learning Ojibwe language is fun. I get to stay connected with my culture, and I get to speak with other Ojibwe people.” – LDSB Student, 2022

A sub-group from the Indigenous Education Advisory Council is continuing to work on draft Terms of Reference to transition the Council into a formal Board Committee. The IEAC also continues to work on Indigenous supports in SHSM certifications and programs.

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Notice of Motions Presented

Trustee Godkin brought forward the following motions at the February 23, 2022, Regular Board Meeting:

“That LDSB write letters to all municipal governments in our jurisdiction, as well as to the provincial and federal ministries and departments responsible for housing and homelessness to request immediate action to tackle the unprecedented increases in the costs of real estate as it related to housing and the costs of rental units in which is and will increase child and student poverty and increase student homelessness. The added stress on families has direct effect on our students and ultimately impact on their education.” and, “That the Board, through its representatives on OPSBA reach out to its members boards to seek support in having all levels of government address the housing crisis and its effect on children and our students.”

All Trustees were in favour of writing a letter to all municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

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.