March 24, 2021 Meeting of LDSB Board of Trustees
Private Session Update
Vice Chair Tom Gingrich indicated Trustees approved Private Session minutes from the February 10, 2021 Board Meeting. Staff provided a safe schools update and Trustee Laurie French provided an OPSBA update. No other items were discussed or subject to a motion.
Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.
We have been fortunate in KFL&A area with respect to COVID-19 case numbers but numbers are starting to increase yet again. The Chair thanked board and school staff for their tireless work behind the scenes given recent school cases. Working with KFL&A Public Health to manage cases is detail-oriented and time consuming work as is ensuring up-to-date communication which has also been extremely helpful and appreciated.
Applications for the role of Student Trustee for 2021-2022 school year are now open. Chair thanked current Student Trustees for engaging with their peers and helping to promote such an important role.
The Board of Trustees sought feedback on the development of the 2021-2022 LDSB budget through an online survey that closed last week. The feedback will assist Trustees during the budgeting process to ensure students’ needs are best served. The information collected will be summarized and reviewed at the Budget Committee meeting on April 21, 2021.
Trustees recently engaged in several sessions to review existing Board policies to contribute to the continuous improvement of board governance. A key responsibility of the board is to develop and adopt policies that are based on the Board’s vision and to monitor and evaluate how efficiently these policies are implemented. Chair thanked her colleagues for their continued work on policy review.
Director Krishna Burra provided the following report.
Director Burra shared that teaching and learning continue as we grapple with impact of COVID-19 pandemic and doing our best to support students and staff. A recent increase in local cases is a community-wide concern that again emphasizes the need for everyone to follow prescribed health protocols in schools and in the community. Unfortunately, LDSB had its first closure of a school related to a COVID-19 outbreak. he thanked staff for their efforts to manage the cases and pivot to online learning.
Voluntary asymptomatic testing by family of schools begins this week for students and staff through the local testing centres in Kingston and Napanee. Director Burra thanked Kingston Health Sciences Centre and the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital for their support with implementing the board's testing plan.
Limestone has seen a more recent increase in the number of student and staff absences primarily due to single symptom COVID-19 screener. Director Burra noted that the board will do everything it can to ensure continuity of learning, but the board also needs to ensure it has enough staff to ensure schools can function day to day.
Given last week was originally scheduled to be March Break, he shared it was great to see the wide range of activities offered and celebrated in schools to boost student and staff morale.
Presentation: Building Capacity in Equity Work
Superintendent of Education Michèle Babcock introduced the Limestone Equity Team including Equity & Inclusion Consultants Suche James and Rae McDonald as well as guests Lauren McEwen, the Creative Arts SHSM Teacher at Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute, and Michelle Nyamekye, a teacher candidate in her final year of the Queen's University Concurrent education program.
Ms. McDonald began by sharing how Limestone is embedding anti-racism teaching into primary learning. Starting in the primary grades, Limestone is working on decentering the white narrative in the primary years by using intentional mentor texts and videos and inclusive language guides. In later junior, intermediate and secondary years, the work builds on these themes. Eventually, the work focuses on modelling critical thinking, exploring different perspectives and encouraging and supporting opportunities for student leadership and action against racism.
Ms. McEwen & Ms. Nyamekye explained how Limestone is working to create identity affirming spaces such as that which has been created as part of the Virtual Gender & Sexuality Alliance or GSA. The Virtual GSA provides a safe space for students to be themselves. Originally it was to be solely for virtual school students but it soon moved to include all students in Grades 7-12 in Limestone. The space, structure and topics are student-led. Staff are always available for support and as a resource. The intent is to build community and a virtual meeting space will likely continue even when in-person meetings can resume.
Ms. Nyamekye also explained how the new Queen's Black Mentorship Program for Black students in Limestone will allow participants to build a community with other Black students, build Black culture and get a sense of themselves.
Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) representative Trustee Laurie French shared that OPSBA has been active including holding various meetings with the Leaders of the Opposition and on NDP Advocacy Day in addition to weekly calls with the Minister of Education. OPSBA continues its advocacy related to reserves and funding concerns.
OPSBA's recent virtual Public Education Symposium was successful based on trustee feedback and the introduction of a new Speaker Series has also seen increasing attendance. She shared that the upcoming Labour Relations Symposium will also be held virtually.
The provincial budget was released earlier this afternoon and OPSBA will share more information related to public education. She indicated that hopefully school boards will receive adequate Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding according to the areas of need identified by OPSBA which included mental health and health and safety.
Trustee French also indicated that Limestone could ask OPSBA to seek out a policy resolution to advocate on a particular issue. She suggested Limestone submit a resolution to remove the limitations on trustee representation (specifically Indigenous trustee). Trustees agreed unanimously to pursue this. Trustee French will lead the submission.
Rural Student Trustee
Home school: Sydenham HS
Indigenous Student Trustee
Home school: LCVI
Urban Student Trustee
Home school: KSS
Student Trustee Report
Trustee Quadir shared that Student Trustee applications for 2021-2022 school year are now open. In addition to creating promotional posters for each school, Student Trustees are holding two info sessions on Microsoft Teams for interested students.
Trustee Quadir has been working with Equity & Inclusion Consultant Suche James and the Queen’s University Black Graduate Caucus to start a mentorship program for Black students in LDSB. She is also working with Queen’s Smith School of Business to advise sessions for underserved students, including racialized and LGBTQ2S+ youth to learn about the Queen’s commerce program.
Trustee Quadir is working with Canadian Blood Services to engage students across LDSB and ALCDSB to recruit and engage students into blood donation clubs. Student Trustees would like to see more students participate.
Trustee Putnam attended the 2021 OSTA-AECO Board Council Conference held virtually in February. There was discussion surrounding student trustee roles and how to best advocate for students. As the Public Board Council Eastern Region Representative, Trustee Putnam recently held two information sessions on topics such as menstrual equity, policies and practices to combat systemic racism and elementary outreach.
Trustee Traviss shared that he is excited for his role in assisting with upcoming Student Trustee elections and indicated he has had many interested students come forward. He is working with staff to hold a workshop for Indigenous students who might want some help with application process.
Report for Information: 2021-2022 Virtual School Options
Superintendent of Education Jessica Silver introduced the report. As positive cases of COVID-19 trend downward, and with further mitigation expected once KFL&A region has full vaccination capabilities, the board expects schools will return to mostly in-person learning in September 2021.
Limestone will continue to offer remote learning options for the 2021-2022 school year, however, because no additional funding to support virtual schools next year, the 2021-2022 model will have to operate differently. The 2021-2022 remote options are intended for students for whom online learning better meets their learning needs, and for students who need to continue with virtual learning due to underlying medical conditions for themselves, or for family members. #LDSBmtg
To assist with the complex planning required, all students will be automatically moved back to their in-person school for September 2021. Current Virtual Schools students have been offered the opportunity to register for Virtual School for next year. Without additional funding and/or opportunities for reorganizing the system, the board cannot accommodate movement between in-person learning and Virtual School during 2021-2022 as was the case this year. Registration in virtual school is year-long commitment.
Secondary families must register by April 2. Elementary families will do so later in May.
Report for Information: Trustee Distribution
Superintendent of Business Craig Young shared the report to provide background related to the distribution of Trustees by electoral boundaries in preparation for any potential changes for the 2022 municipal elections.
As per Ontario Regulation 412/00, the calculation for the number of Trustees is determined by the population of the electoral group and by board density (population over geographic area). For Limestone, density is not a factor and hence population of the electoral group is the only factor. For population of an electoral group of between 100,000 to 149,999 persons, Ontario Regulation 412/00 determines that LDSB is eligible to have 9 Trustees.
Before the 2022 Election, the Board of Trustees will need to: finalize determination and distribution of Trustees for 2022 election, approve trustee Honorarium for following term and appoint a compliance audit committee.
Report Requiring Decision:
Associate Superintendent Scot Gillam presented the School-Year Calendar Report for 2021-2022.
Following a calendar survey and consultation with the School-Year Calendar Committee, and discussions with ALCDSB and HPEDSB, the calendar that begins with a PA Day on Friday, September. 3, 2021 (Option 2/Appendix A) has been selected for Trustee approval. Both ALCDSB and HPEDSB have approved the same option for next year.
The Ministry of Education provided a later memo recommending boards schedule 3 mandatory PA days prior to the start of the school year. Limestone staff federations opposed this calendar as it would only allow for 1 PA Day for professional development during the year as others are earmarked for report cards or semester turnaround.
Staff asked Trustees to support staff recommendation for Option 2/Appendix A. If the Ministry does not approve that calendar because it prefers 3 PA Days before the start of the school year, we will go with Appendix B that begins with first PA on Wednesday, September. 1. Trustees approved Option 2/Appendix A as presented.
Notices of Motion
1. The following motion was brought forward by Trustee Quadir, sponsored by Trustee Brown and seconded by Trustee Elliott: “That the Limestone District School Board conducts a review of the human rights incident reporting process, including the anonymous reporting process, to ensure a human rights and equity lens. The review includes the tracking and monitoring procedures to ensure accountability and transparency, as well as exploring ways to increase awareness for all board students and staff.” This motion will be discussed at the next Board Meeting.
2. The following motion was brought forward by Trustee Elliott. "That the Limestone District School Board issue a statement on anti-Asian racism, continuing our commitment to equity and inclusion, and acknowledging the importance of confronting anti-Asian racism. Statistics show that anti-Asian hate crimes have been surging in Canada during the pandemic. The statement should include resources to help support our collective learning about racism and how we can work toward becoming anti-racist." Following discussion, Trustees voted unanimously to discuss this motion immediately rather than defer it to the next Board Meeting. The motion was later amended to remove the reference to statistics and passed as revised.