Boardroom Briefs

May 19, 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.

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

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Private Session Update

Vice Chair Tom Gingrich indicated that during private session prior to this evening's public session, minutes from regular Board Meeting of April 28 & Audit Committee May 3 were approved. Trustee French provided an OPSBA update.

Superintendent McWilliams provided a personnel update. There was also a labour update that resulted in the following motion: That the Board ratify the tentative CUPE collective agreement as presented.

There was no other business conducted, or motions passed in private .

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.

Chair Ruttan extended the Board's sincere sympathies on the passing of a Grade 12 Sydenham High School student who died suddenly last week. She thanked the school and Education Services staff as they support the school community during this difficult time.

The first week of May is recognized as both Education Week and Mental Health Week in Ontario. This year, LDSB showcased and celebrated teaching excellence and student achievement under theme of #StrongerTogether. She indicated that Trustees are proud of way school and central staff and community partners have rallied to support students and families during these unprecedented times. Thank all staff – in every role – for providing much-needed support and connection to students and families.

Theme of a new public awareness campaign to highlight the strengths of our public education recently launched by the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. The Above and Beyond campaign aims to dispel misconceptions, and raise awareness about the important role local governance plays in our system.

Director's Update

Director of Education Krishna Burra provided the following report.

The Director shared that the recent sudden passing of a Grade 12 student from Sydenham High School has been felt deeply within the Sydenham school community. He offered condolences to the family and all those who knew this student. He thanked both school and Educational Services staff for their ongoing support of students and families which will continue for as long as it is needed

Staff were recognized for their ongoing efforts during this unprecedented year as part of Education Week and Mental Health Week in early May. The 2020-2021 school year has been full of challenges for everyone and the Director indicated that he has been continually impressed and inspired by the way our school communities have embraced change and adapted time and again to a regularly changing landscape. He said we are fortunate to have education workers and support staff who regularly step up to provide care and support in these overwhelming circumstances.

He indicated that staff would provide an update on planning for the 2021-2022 school year. While there are still some unknowns and updated Ministry guidance is anticipated in summer, he shared that staff are working diligently to plan and prepare what they can now to ensure a smooth transition in September.

The Director said the board is aware of concerns raised from a number of stakeholders regarding the potential use of hybrid learning in 2021-2022. This year, Limestone made a conscientious effort to keep virtual learning separate from in-person learning to the maximum extent possible. Significant COVID funds were used for this purpose. The board's goal for the coming year is to again keep these two learning models separate.

The board is hopeful that most students and staff who wish to be vaccinated, will be, by the start of September. Education workers have been eligible for vaccines for a few weeks now and the board is working with the Ministry of Education and public health on the upcoming rollout of vaccines for students aged 12 to 17.

Senior staff will provide a mid-year update on Limestone’s Strategic Plan. While many actions and initiatives had to be deferred or altered last year due to the pandemic, staff are pleased to report that many others are back on track.

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Board honours 2021 Limestone Student Achievers

The Limestone District School Board of Trustees honoured 11 secondary students with 2021 Limestone Student Achievers Awards at its regular meeting May 19, 2021.

The Limestone Student Achievers Award recognize outstanding achievements of secondary students whose exceptional accomplishments merit recognition beyond the separate categories of awards at the school level. Recipients should have demonstrated exemplary achievement in all three categories: leadership; positive attitude, energy, and school spirit; and academic standing.

The Awards Committee, which includes Trustees Tom Gingrich, Garrett Elliott and Karen McGregor, helped introduce the awards.

In congratulating the recipients, Board Chair Suzanne Ruttan said the achievements of these exemplary students make our schools better. "These students inspire their fellow students, staff and community members alike. This award recognizes their exemplary contributions to strategic priorities of wellness, collaboration, and innovation in supporting others during the school year."

Each student will receive a medal, a framed award certificate and a lapel pin. Their names will be recorded on a plaque and displayed in the Barry C. O’Connor Board Room at the Education Centre.

Director of Education Krishna Burra said the Limestone Student Achievers presentation is a highlight of Board Meeting calendar for both Trustees and staff. "These students are truly bright lights in an otherwise very challenging year. Their contributions to our strategic priorities of wellness, collaboration, and innovation in supporting others during the school year is exemplary," he said. "Regardless of where these students are headed after graduation, it is clear they will continue to make a positive and significant impact, and forever be wonderful ambassadors of the Limestone District School Board."

Learn more about this year's recipients on the board website.

OPSBA Report

Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) representative Trustee Laurie French shared her OPSBA Report. Trustee French shared that there was no Board of Directors meeting since LDSB's last Board Meeting so there was little to report.

OPSBA's virtual Annual General Meeting is schedule for June 12, 2021 and will include voting on four policy resolutions share previously: COVID gap funding; anti-racism research funding; mandatory Black heritage in social studies/history curriculum; and LDSB's request for funding for Indigenous Trustee positions.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustee Report began with Trustee Annika Putnam who shared that current and incoming Student Trustees will attend the Ontario Student Trustees' Association (OSTA-AECO) Annual General Meeting conference. She said that Student Trustees are excited to have the opportunity to engage in professional development with their cross province colleagues.

Trustee Namirah Quadir indicated that current and incoming Student Trustees met with InterSchool Council members to discuss student initiatives and well-being. She also shared that OSTAAECO's mental health and well-being working group has been working with and advising School Mental Health Ontario’s modules on mental health which will be shared with classrooms this spring and fall.

Trustee Quanah Traviss congratulated students for coming this far during a challenging school year. He shared that he sees students finding new ways to adapt to virtual school. Whether it’s interacting with their school community through social media, an Indigenous Student attending Indspire or promoting local business, he said it is inspiring to see this level of perseverance coming from Limestone students. He wished all students good luck on final class of the year, which for many, includes graduating from high school, a milestone for hundreds of students across our board.

Reports for Information: Strategic Plan Monitoring

Director Burra indicated the intent of this report is to update Trustees on the progress of the Strategic Action Plans for 2020-2021.To assist Trustees with their ongoing monitoring, a mid-year update is provided using a ‘traffic light’ system to evaluate the progress of specific actions which were designed to operationalize achievement of LDSB strategic goals.

focused on items that have been assessed as ‘red’ or ‘yellow.’ This mid-year assessment allows staff to make adjustments to ensure that strategic plan goals remain on track.

The full report is available for review on the board website (pages 67-105 of the meeting package).


Mental Health W1.2: The development of a new three year Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy for 2021-2024 is under way. A survey of all stakeholders was undertaken this spring and a snapshot of early data shows that more than 1,300 students provided feedback as well as 936 families/caregivers and 551 staff and eight community service providers. Feedback was also gathered from focus groups with Special Education Advisory Committee and Indigenous Education Advisory Committee.

Accessibility W2.1: Provide equity of opportunity and inclusion of all students and strengthen student voice through the establishment of school- based accessibility audits to identify areas of improvement within schools. This action is red as it did not occur due to COVID restrictions. Pilot has occurred in elementary prior to COVID. Depending on public health protocols the plan will be implemented in September 2021.

Equity & Inclusion W2.2: Reviewed Administrative Procedure 400 and incorporated new Hiring Policy (Program & Policy Memorandum 165) which included standardized job posting templates with implicit equity statement, and ability to voluntarily self-identify. Modifications were made to Apply to Education to include voluntary self-identification and addition of pronouns. Expanded outreach for job postings to include Aboriginal Job Board and ONABSE as well as other sites. There was a review of group interview process completed by LDSB Equity Consultant to ensure there are no systemic barriers preventing equitable participation by any group in the process.

French as a Second Language W2.3: Planned professional learning was interrupted by COVID; limited opportunities were available to engage staff in learning to build student confidence in listening and speaking in French. Pilot funded through OPSBA was planned as year-long project to incorporate the use of green screen technology for encouraging greater student engagement in oral language activities; COVID interrupted this project and so it will pick up again in fall 2021. Goal to increase number of students remaining in FSL programs (Core & Immersion) over three-year span not possible this year. Due to learning disruptions and pivots to online learning, some families opted for an English language program for 2020-2021. The plan is to welcome French immersion students back to their immersion program despite the year or two of English.

Health & Safety Certifications W3.1: Working on this since 2019. Approximately 20 staff totally certified in both Part 1 and Part 2 certifications. Currently COVID restrictions only permit 10 people a session. Staff are hopeful of extending this shortly and staff are also working on online version.


Literacy I1.2: Converted Grade 11 English courses to use Indigenous authors and texts. Seeking perspective on what other texts students were reading from Grades 9 to 12. English department heads will share core texts that are being read in English classes as part of curriculum. The plan is to do this every year for the next three years so we have a sense of what changes we are making as a system. Program team members met virtually with educators to support use of diagnostics, prevention and intervention strategies, online tools and platforms, and high yield strategies for LDSB Elementary Virtual School.

Leadership Development/Succession I2.2: New series of learning for new administrators on variety of topics including training, mentorship and coaching took place but had to be delivered virtually.

Alternative & Continuing Education I3.1: Due to increased community need (locally and provincially) for more personal support workers (PSWs), board is exploring partnership with Providence Care. Board is waiting to hear about additional financial support to assist with re-starting the program. There are potential funds from CESBA which would be used to help with the certification process and hopeful re-launch of program next school year. Also applied for $118,105 in 2020-2021 to develop English as a Second Language curriculum through the Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Division of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). Board was successful in application to develop English as a Second Language for Home Support Worker/PSW preparation curriculum and board also helping to develop the Childcare Worker curriculum as a bridge to St. Lawrence College’s Early Childhood Education program.

Technology Enhanced Education I3.2: Given nature of school year & moving between in-person and remote learning, many supports for staff have moved to more virtual supports. Continuing to build our capacity to provide a variety of staff supports.


Parent Engagement C1.3: Goal to build a Parent Reaching Out or PROGrant application process to apply for funding to support various parent engagement initiatives at school level. Over one third of our schools submitted applications for up to $1,000.

Indigenous Education C2.1: Many professional learning opportunities were lost due to COVID restrictions with exception of a fall session at Gould Lake. Additional work is scheduled with both staff and students at Gould Lake and at school sites in the fall. Work to identify several students and their families that were not engaging in either face to face or virtual learning resulted in a pilot of students to a classroom at the Katarokwi Learning Centre where curriculum was main focal point, but where cultural and land-based supports were provided. This class will continue next year as we transition those ready to return to their home schools and identify other Indigenous students who require support to engage in learning. Work has already started on the creation of an Indigenous Student Leadership Circle for secondary students with one rep from each school whose role will be meet monthly with the Indigenous team and Indigenous youth to organize cultural events and opportunities within LDSB.

Early Years C3.1: COVID has resulted in more regular & ongoing communication between board and child-care providers. Both administrators and providers report an improved relationship citing increased communication and lessons learned for new practices.

Report for Information: COVID-19 & Ministry of Education Operational Guidance for 2021-2022

The next report is a COVID-19 Update and preliminary Ministry of Education Operational Guidance for 2021-2022 introduced by Director Burra.

In early May, the provincial government released numerous memos related to funding for the 2021-2022 school year and provided preliminary, operational guidance for the operation of schools. Details regarding Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) & Priority, Partnership Funding (PPF) will be provided through the annual budget process.

The board is seeking feedback regarding student, family, and staff experience with remote/virtual learning during the 2020-2021 school year. The surveys differentiate between those who were part of virtual learning for the full year, part of the year, or only during the emergency, stay-at-home orders. The surveys are open until May 28, 2021. Families can complete via this link.

The Ministry has provided preliminary guidance for the 2021-2022 school year but has indicated that updated guidance will be provided in the summer including on health and safety measures. Boards will continue to be required to offer remote learning options. The deadline for Limestone families to confirm virtual registration for September is June 4, 2021

Elementary students will operate full-time in person and will continue to be cohorted with their classmates and their homeroom teacher. Specialized teachers will go into classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students. Secondary schools will be planning for a quadmester (two classes per day for a half-semester). School boards are also asked to have plans in place to pivot to other modes of delivery if necessary .

Graduates in the 2021-2022 school year will only have to complete 20 hours of community service. There is also increased flexibility as to how those hours can be accumulated.

All students in Grade 3 and 6 attending in-person learning will participate in the online EQAO math, reading, and writing assessments. All students enrolled in Grade 9 math attending learning in-person will write the Grade 9 math assessment. Secondary students will have an opportunity to attempt the OSSLT in the fall of 2021 and in the spring of 2022.

The Ministry has made additional funding available for 2021-2022 school year beyond GSN and PPF funding. For planning purposes, Ministry has indicated that boards should currently only plan to spend up to 50% of the COVID funds. The remaining 50% may be provided depending on the pandemic context at the end of the 2021 calendar year. The allocation of COVID funding for Limestone is as outlined in the accompanying chart.

The Ministry has also indicated that school boards may draw down reserves up to 2% of their operating allocation.

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Report Requiring Decision: Bylaws and Policy Review

Director Burra shared that Trustees have met several times over past few months to review policies and bylaws with assistance from parliamentarian expert and former trustee.

A few items remain under review and that work will be done later this summer. Tonight Trustees will approve most revisions with exception of trustee replacement process and timing of trustee committee selection.

Trustees passed following motion: That LDSB adopt LDSB Procedural Bylaws and attached appendices as presented by EPOC.

Request for Information: Live Streaming

Trustee Garrett Elliott provides request for information report on live streaming of Board meetings for fall 2021. He clarifies that he is looking for more information on how to archive virtual meetings.

Director Burra indicates such a report would need to focus on two components: the quality of the audio/visual experience for viewers and accessibility requirements.

Trustees vote to have staff proceed with a report with timing to be determined.

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.