Boardroom Briefs

May 22, 2019 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.
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Board honours outstanding secondary students

Trustees honoured outstanding students at their regular Board meeting May 22, 2019. The annual Limestone Student Achievers Award recognizes the achievements of secondary students whose exceptional accomplishments merit recognition beyond the separate categories of awards at the school level.

Recipients demonstrate exemplary achievement in at least three of the following categories: the arts, athletics, leadership, and academic standing. As well, significant in-school contributions and achievements are accompanied by out-of-school activities.

Congratulations to the 2018-2019 Limestone Student Achievers Award Recipients:
  • Bayridge Secondary School: Joel Fiset
  • Ernestown Secondary School: Carsyn Newton
  • Frontenac Secondary School: Sophie Gibson
  • Granite Ridge Education Centre: Aurora French
  • Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute: Miles Brackenbury
  • La Salle Intermediate & Secondary School: Alyssa Labrie
  • Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute: Landon Steenbakkers
  • Napanee District Secondary School: Leah Oster
  • North Addington Education Centre: Rachel Cumming
  • Sydenham High School: Rebecca Hillis

Learn more about these amazing students by reading their citations.

Thanks to Trustees Judith Brown, Garrett Elliott and Tom Gingrich for sitting on the Awards Committee.

Chair's Update

Chair Suzanne Ruttan began her regular update by recognizing the various learning opportunities across the district over the past few weeks including the Celebration of Dance, Music Monday and Kingston Regional Heritage Fair. Each, she said, are clear examples of the Board's strategic focus on wellness, collaboration and innovation.

She outlined that Trustees have received an overview of next year’s budget as well as input from stakeholders around budget priorities for next school year. She thanked these constituents for sharing their views. Like every publicly funded school board in Ontario, she indicated that Limestone will face challenges in providing programming over the next few years due to upcoming funding reductions in all areas. Ninety per cent of Board budget pays for things that are not discretionary such as school salaries, special programming and facility operations and repair. The challenge before the Board is to find efficiencies while keeping student achievement our number one priority. More information was to be provided in the Director's Update later in the agenda.

Director's Update

Director Debra Rantz saluted staff for their work on ensuring students reach their full potential, moving on to the next grade or graduating from high school, as we approach the end of a busy and exciting school year.

She highlighted Limestone's commitment to mental health and well-being of all students and staff through the activities that took place during Mental Health Week and Education Week, May 6-10. Through initiatives that included mindfulness, meditation, yoga and showing kindness every day, schools are incorporating strategies to keep wellness at the forefront.

The Director congratulated secondary student athletes who recently triumphed at Ontario Special Olympics. There were many medals won, but more importantly, Limestone students represented their schools, and this district, with fierce determination and resilience.

She announced that the Limestone Learning Foundation had awarded $35,000 to special school projects that support enhanced learning opportunities, including an annual music grant of $10,000 from the Estate of Larry Gibson. This year, Module Vanier was awarded funds to support its percussion program.

The Director outlined that as the budget process continues over the next month, schools will be communicating with families once the exact impacts of the class size changes and budget cuts are more clearly understood. A further update was provided later in the agenda.

OPSBA Report

Trustee Laurie French provided highlights from recent Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) Board of Directors' meeting and other events.

She shared that OPSBA President is working hard on partnership opportunities and advocacy efforts in support of public education with co-terminus associations, union leaders and People for Education. OPSBA approved its budget and a small surplus will be redirected to government relations work/outreach.

She also outlined a recent presentation from Ontario Student Trustees' Association which included an overview of their structure, roles, initiatives and current statements. She indicated there is support for establishment of a recommendation document regarding student trustees for all school boards (not all boards have them).

Trustee French indicated that regional caucus held breakout sessions regarding consultation on class size and hiring practices which will help inform the provincial submission to the government.

She also indicted there has been discussion regarding a number of items in legislation and work on copyright tariffs for printing materials in classrooms which would affect all school boards.

Finally, she mentioned an upcoming resolution to be decided at OPSBA AGM regarding Autism funding support advocacy.

Trustee Garrett Elliott asked a question about the amalgamation of school boards which was to be discussed at OPSBA regional meetings. Trustee French replied that OPSBA has always supported a single system in two languages but that this is not a current priority given other items.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustees Sean Kim and Shylah Hart shared that the LDSB InterSchool Council had its final meeting of the 2018-2019 school year on May 7 and included both current and newly elected representatives of secondary schools. The Council elected new Student Trustees for the 2019-2020 school year: Jessica Crook from Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute as the urban trustee and Annika Putnam from Granite Ridge Education Centre as the rural representative. Trustees Kim and Hart will begin training and mentorship of the incoming student trustees who will begin their term in September.

The Student Trustees will attend the Ontario Student Trustees' Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) conference from May 23-26 with their incoming peers. The AGM is the final conference of the school year and is held in order to setup the foundation for the following 2019-2020 school year. Members will review the successes of the organization such as the OSTA Vision Document - The Students’ Vision for Education - as well as the possible areas of improvement.

Trustee Hart attended the United Way of KFL&A Youth Hub open house earlier this month in Napanee. Because of her experience with the LDSB, she has been asked to help organize a Napanee Youth Advisory Council. She will attend a brainstorming session next week to begin this work.

Staff Update on Ministry of Education Announcements

Director of Education Debra Rantz and Superintendent of Human Resources Andre Labrie provided an update on Ministry of Education directives.

The Director shared that while the Board has received high level Grants for Student Needs, it has not yet received the detailed Technical Paper which provides specifics around funding for Limestone. While the Board has been given the provincial categories for Priorities and Partnerships Funding but we have not received a board-by-board breakdown of our share of the funding.

With the information the Board has received so far, staff have analyzed the class size and budget changes to determine specific impacts. Staff are concerned with the large increase to secondary class sizes as well as several additional cuts. While job loss will be mitigated through attrition, there is still a loss of positions meaning that LDSB will have fewer program options in the coming years. The Director shared that as the number of teachers is reduced in each school by attrition and/or budget cuts, there will be fewer adults to provide one-on-one support or to provide extracurricular activities.

Superintendent Labrie indicated that LDSB collective agreements, staffing timelines and processes differ from board to board. He shared that LDSB's date to declare potential redundancies is the end of May (for September 2019). He said there will be redundancies in secondary but not in elementary, however, there will be fewer staff across the district overall. This will result in a significant impact on support to schools and professional development.

Director Rantz said it is important to note every year there are redundancies. Also, every year, some courses will not run because they do not have enough students selecting them. This is a natural process. Some courses will not run next year based on student selections, not budget cuts.

The Director stressed that Board staff are participating in any and all opportunities for consultation and are committed to decision-making that supports the success of all students. Board staff hope to have more detailed information for the next Budget Meeting on June 12.

Trustee Questions/Comments:

Trustee Laurie French asked if staff would make clear which cuts are a result of regular program (as a result of student choice) and which are the result of reduced funding. The Director indicated that this information will be highlighted for Trustees.

Trustee Bob Godkin encouraged Board staff to emphasize the need for exceptions as a result of funding cuts. Trustee French (through her OPSBA work) and the Director (through her Council of Directors of Education work) shared that the need for local priorities funding flexibility has, and will continue to be, an advocacy item.

Trustee Robin Hutcheon asked about the timelines regarding the budget process and requested packages earlier for review. The Director replied that due to lack of government detail, the process is later this year and extra meetings have been added. She indicated that packages would be shared as soon as possible.

Trustee Garrett Elliott asked if there is a communications strategy to educate the public around the complexities of the budget. The Director indicated that this is all included in the public budget documents and staff work hard to ensure it is presented in as simple terms as possible.

Election of Audit Committee Representative

    Due to a new vacancy, Trustees voted on the election of a new Trustee representative to sit on the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing the financial reporting process of the Board. This responsibility includes communications with the external auditor concerning the auditor's roles and responsibilities within the financial reporting process.Trustee Elliott was acclaimed as the newest Trustee representative.

    Private Session Update

    Private Session occurred prior to the Public Session on May 22, 2019. Trustee Laurie French shared that confidential matters regarding safe schools, property, OPSBA and labour were discussed. No motions or decisions were presented.

    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.