Boardroom Briefs

June 16 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 at the Education, Policy & Operations Committee (EPOC) Meeting on June 2, 2021, Chair Ruttan provided a personnel update. Prior to tonight's meeting, minutes from Regular Board Meeting Private Session May 19, 2021 and EPOC Private Session June 2, 2021 were approved. Trustee French provided an OPSBA update. Director Burra provided a personnel update. There was no other business conducted, or motions passed.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.

While the Board of Trustees was hopeful schools would reopen for the remaining few weeks of the school year, boards must follow provincial direction. The Chair indicated that Trustees are well aware that attending school in person is crucial for students, and the Board will continue to advocate through the Ontario Public School Boards' Association for what is best for all students.

The Chair thanked all educators, administrators and school support staff for their continued focus on student success and wellness this past year despite the ongoing challenges and to pivot back and forth between modes of learning.

She shared that Trustees will provide final approval for the 2021-2022 budget that is in compliance with Ministry of Education requirements. As always, the budget is focused on supporting student achievement and well-being within the confines of the funding provided to us. The Chair extended her thanks to staff for their work to support Trustees in reviewing and approving the budget, perhaps one of our most significant roles as governors.

She went on to extend the Board's appreciation to senior staff, managers and support staff at the Education Centre who directly support the work of Trustees. She acknowledged that this year has required many ad-hoc reports, briefings and updates to keep apprised of all the changes faced by school boards. She recognized that many staff have had little downtime especially those directly involved in board’s COVID-19 response, and that this work will continue over the summer to ensure plans are in place for a safe return in September.

She extended her gratitude to fellow Trustees for your diligence in your governance role, an important one and I thank you her for your ongoing efforts to support a sustainable public education system through appropriate funding and stakeholder engagement.

She extended congratulations and thanks to those staff who are retiring this year and recognized student graduates who have reached a significant milestone. She shared that their graduation is a testament to their hard work, and the support of their schools, their families and others within their circle.

Director's Update

Director of Education Krishna Burra provided the following report.

The Director began his report by expressing sympathies to everyone affected by recent attack against Muslim-Canadian family from London who was targeted in what police are calling a hate crime. he indicated that this kind of hate has no place in our communities, and no place in our schools. He said the board stands with the local Muslim community, and those around the country, and staff remain committed to combating Islamophobia, racism and discrimination in all its forms. Incidents such as this emphasize the importance of educating students about respect, equity, diversity, and human rights for all.

He acknowledged June as Pride month and indicate that all LDSB sites are proudly flying the Pride flag as one way to demonstrate all schools are accepting of all students every day to support well-being, belonging, and learning.

He shared that while many things looked different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much accomplished across the district to support ongoing equity work – work that is critically important given recent events within our country and across the world. In the fall, the board released a draft Equity Action Plan that identifies specific actions to break down barriers of systemic racism with an emphasis on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. The board also undertook its first-ever Student Census to help us understand student identity, lived experience and ability.

The Director said that the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health and well-being of everyone, but particularly students who lost some of the critical routines and supports that schools provide, including the important social aspects connected to their peers and caring adults. He shared that more than 1,300 students in Grades 7 to 12 provided input to the board’s recent survey on Mental Health & Substance Abuse which will help inform the new 2021-2024 strategy to support students. The strategy will be unveiled in the fall.

The Director shared that the opening of Kingston Secondary School has increased traffic congestion around the site and adjacent Molly Brant Elementary School. He said the board has worked closely with its partners at the City of Kingston, Kingston Police, and Tri-Board Student Transportation to find solutions for some of the congestion concerns. Kingston City Council has approved parking and by-law amendments and new signage in the area for when students return in the fall. City staff are also recommending to Council that an all-way stop and crosswalks be added at Kingscourt Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street. The all-way stop is planned for construction this summer after traffic by-law reports are approved in early July. Monitoring of vehicular and pedestrian traffic will continue this fall to ensure the planned changes have been effective for improving safe access to the school sites. Communication and information supporting active routes to the school such as the “park and stride program” will continue to complement enforcement of the pick-up/drop-off activities in the vicinity of the schools. He shared that the City is also looking at installing a number of new, or upgraded, pedestrian crossing locations across the city and might include additional locations in this area following a consultation process later this summer.

Late last week, the board received Ministry of Education approval on the 2021-2022 School-Year Calendar. As Trustees approved earlier, this spring, Limestone’s first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021 following the Labour Day holiday. Staff will begin with a Professional Activity Day on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. The new calendar has been posted publicly and is being shared with families for information before the summer break.

This meeting marks the final one for Student Trustees. On behalf of staff, the Director commended and thanked Trustees Annika Putnam, Namirah Quadir and Quanah Traviss for their extraordinary efforts over the past year to ensure student voice is included around the Board table. His shared that their words and actions have been integral to helping the board and staff make decisions that will have positive effects on students now, and into the future. He wished them all the very best in their next chapters.

The Director thanked students, families, community partners, Trustees and staff for their patience and understanding as we worked together to navigate our way through the pandemic over the past 16 months. While the school year may be ending, work to continue supporting students and planning for September will continue throughout the summer. He indicated that his board updates provide only a handful of highlights in what was a very different year, and that much work that takes place behind the scenes by many staff in many roles. He shared that the past year has not been easy for anyone and time and again, staff have worked together to ensure students are supported in best way possible whether it be learning and implementing COVID-19 precautions and protocols, constant pivoting back and forth between in-person and remote learning, or providing a caring and trusted connection for students. He said this work has been supported by partners at KFL&A Public Health and others within the community including the Food Sharing Project, Maltby Centre, and Pathways to Education to name just a few. He thanked each partner for their ongoing collaboration to ensure student well-being and achievement are always at the forefront of our work.

Finally, the Director acknowledged Limestone students and the impact of the loss of day-to-day school routines, school assemblies, spirit days, field trips, extra-curricular activities and traditional end-of-year celebrations and graduations. He said the importance and value of what schools provide extends well beyond learning. He thanked student for their flexibility and resiliency, and their willingness to adapt and make the best of the situation. He extended his congratulations to the graduates of 2021 and shared that while this may not be how they expected to end their graduating year, he hopes it is both meaningful and memorable.

As we head into the summer break, he said there is also much optimism for the future. As COVID cases continue to drop, and vaccination rates continue to increase, we remain hopeful for a return to “normal” activities when we return to school in September. While school boards have not received final plans from Ministry of Education – these guidelines will come in the summer – he said we are well-positioned to welcome students back with some precautions still in place, but with great anticipation for the return of in-person school routines, and traditions when it is safe to do so.

Delegation: Opening Schools Regionally

The Board of Trustees approved a delegation from students Holly-Jean Roberts, Freja Jowett and Clara Christopher regarding opening schools regionally. Presenting for the group, Holly-Jean, shared that students have contacted the Premier and MPP to request schools in KFL&A be opened regionally for the last week of school. While they agree safety is important, they believe safety protocols and lack of outbreaks in our region means schools should resume in-person learning. The students would like LDSB Trustees to follow in the steps of Hamilton area counterparts who wrote a letter to government asking that schools reopen for last five to seven days of school. Trustees thanked the students for their presentation and the Chair will follow up directly with the presenters.

Presentation: Outgoing Student Trustees

Chair Ruttan shared that it was her privilege on behalf of the Limestone District School Board of Trustees to acknowledge the service of this year’s Student Trustees Annika Putnam, Namirah Quadir and Quanah Traviss. She was joined in sharing the following remarks by Trustees Gingrich and Elliott as Area Trustees representing the schools the students attend.

During a most unusual and unpredictable year, Trustees Putnam, Quadir and Traviss have provided exceptional guidance and insight both around the horseshoe and in their other leadership roles. Together, this team has encouraged and enhanced efforts to further develop student voice in schools and across the district. Trustees Putnam and Quadir have had a significant impact at the provincial level through their work with the Ontario Student Trustee Association, better known as OSTA-AECO. Trustee Putnam served as the OSTA-AECO Public Board Council Eastern Region Representative. Trustee Quadir served as a member of OSTA-AECO’s Student Well-being Working Group.

It is worth recognizing Trustee Putnam for her initiative in working with secondary school students to determine awareness and access to menstrual hygiene products. While these products have been available in schools for many years, student feedback indicated the availability of products wasn't always known, nor were they easily accessible. As a result of Trustee Putnam’s efforts, the board moved to remove barriers and ensure equitable access for all. Next year, Trustee Putnam will return to Sydenham High School for a fifth year in September. She plans to go into teaching and attend a con ed program for post- secondary the following year.

Trustee Quadir worked with School Mental Health Ontario’s MH Lit: Student Mental Health in Action , a series of four lessons to support educators working with secondary students, focusing on building their understanding of mental health and mental illness, signs of mental health problems, and how/where to access help when needed. Trustee Quadir supported the review of the lesson plans to ensure the content and language resonates with secondary school students, and has recently offered her time to record a voiceover for a video in the final lesson plan. Next year, Trustee Quadir plans to attend Harvard University in the fall to concentrate in neuroscience with a minor in politics or engineering. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend medical school to become a physician and entrepreneur to advocate for global equality in education and health care.

Trustee Traviss has helped amplify Indigenous student voice throughout various initiatives including his work with the virtual Indigenous Youth Drop In, his support of Indigenous Student Trustee applicants, and his role with the board’s Indigenous Education Advisory Council where he reminded members of the important reasons for their participation and efforts. He also supported Indigenous student voice by asking schools not to play O Canada during morning announcements on Orange Shirt Day in September to honour residential school survivors. Next year, Trustee Traviss plans to attend the University of Ottawa for a Bachelor of Linguistics, with a focus on German, Polish, and Latin. His studies will take him overseas to Europe in his second or third year, where he hopes to gain a better understanding of the languages and cultures he is learning. After university, he hopes to teach and would like to return to Limestone.

Clearly, these Trustees have leadership in their veins, and we know they will continue to be leaders and learners as they move on from our horseshoe. We congratulate each of you on your accomplishments and look forward to hearing updates as you continue your journey. Each, in their own way, the Student Trustees have represented Limestone students with integrity, passion and gratitude. To recognize their commitment and efforts as Student Trustees, it is my honor to present honorariums in the amount of $2,500 to each of you. Thank you again for your dedication to Limestone.

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OPSBA Report

Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) representative Trustee Laurie French shared her OPSBA Report.

She shared that the OPSBA Annual General Meeting held virtually on weekend and included video greetings from Minister of Education. There was also a presentation from Kike Ojo-Thompson on Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Education: A conversation for system leaders that spoke to what is racism, how does it show up in schools and how to dismantle it.

There were various reports presented including financial report, establishment of core issue work groups and strategic priorities for 2021-2022. Four Policy Resolutions from member boards were approved including LDSB’s resolution on funding for Indigenous Trustee positions in school boards.

In her Canadian School Boards' Association report, Trustee French indicated there is continued work on national priorities of Indigenous education, school well-being, and advocacy in support of locally elected Trustees, with a focus on anti-racism.

Finally, she shared that eastern region nominations and elections to core issue work groups took place including the election of Trustee Robin Hutcheon on the Policy Development team and Trustee Karen McGregor on Education Program team.

Student Trustee Report

Trustee Annika Putnam: Congratulations to students and staff for making it through an extremely unpredictable school year. Special congratulations to Grade. 6, 8 nd 12 graduates. As Student Trustees, and graduates ourselves, we wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. Personally, I want to thank everyone who has supported me within my role as Rural Student Trustee over the past two years. You have all contributed to my ability to advocate for LDSB students. This opportunity can only be described as “once in a lifetime” as I have been provided with invaluable knowledge and experiences that will help me navigate my future. Although I am sad that my Student Trustee journey is coming to an end, I am so excited to see what the three incoming Student Trustees will do with the role.

Trustee Quanah Traviss: For a lot of people, today is just another Wednesday, but for me, today marks the end of almost 15 years at Limestone. The opportunity to be the first Indigenous Student Trustee has been one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. This role has allowed me to discover what my role is as an Indigenous Student Leader. While it’s a little sad to see this come to an end, it brings a smile to my face to be able to look back and reflect on how much I’ve grown these last few years, but more importantly, to remember the amazing people who have helped me to come so far. Thank all the staff at the board, including Trustees, for being so helpful during my year as a Student Trustee Most importantly I want to thank my two amazing sidekicks, Namirah and Annika, for sharing this adventure with me.

Trustee Namirah Quadir: I should have done this at the beginning of my term, but I thought I should introduce myself at our last board meeting. I have been involved in student leadership for as long as I can remember. I’ve been in student council, served as a Canadian representative in our global robotics community, worked with local politicians and ran several clubs at school. What I don’t often share are my difficult experiences as an advocate who is a young woman, who is the child of Bangladeshi immigrants, and who is Muslim. I am grateful to have been given so many opportunities throughout this past year to follow one of my greatest dreams of paving the way for other student leaders of marginalized backgrounds to overcome barriers both big and small. Being a student trustee has changed my life. It has inspired me to listen more, to do better, and to be loud in my leadership, and that is all thanks to the outstanding support I have received from our school board. Thank you to all the trustees, senior staff, the Director, Mr. James, and to all my other incredible advisors throughout my term for making me feel empowered in my role to speak up and to make a difference. Something I recently is that Leonardo Buscaglia once said that change is the end result of all true learning. I think that these times, however challenging, hold tremendous opportunities for us as leaders in our community and our greater, global society, to learn, and to change for the better.

Report for Information: Indigenous Education

Associate Superintendent of Education Scot Gillam provided an update on Indigenous Education Programming. He said that various initiatives related to Indigenous Education were previously reported to Board through this year at presentations in October, November and May.

He shared that despite the restrictions on face-to-face activities, staff continued to support a wide range of initiatives including three days of Land-Based Learning and Wellness Professional Development, translation of Getting to Know Turtle Island into French, school-based projects at over 20 schools, Educational Assistant and tutorial support for Indigenous youth, and multiple visits by partner Elders and Knowledge Keepers to classrooms (in-person and virtually).

He said that projects and goals for next year include Indigenous Language programs, Secondary Indigenous Leadership Circle, professional development for staff and additional leadership opportunities for Indigenous students, cultural awareness training and education opportunities. He said a decision made in May 2021 to transition the Indigenous Lead to a Vice Principal position starting in 2021-2022, to oversee Indigenous Education and provide direct supervision and support to staff.

Beginning in 2021-2022, the Ministry of Education is enveloping Indigenous Languages and First Nations, Metis and Inuit Studies allocations to ensure funds are direct to support Indigenous learning.

Report for Information: Virtual School Planning

Superintendent of Education Jessica Silver provided the following report on Virtual School Planning for the 2021-2022 school year.

She shared that Elementary and Secondary Virtual School registration for the 2021-2022 school year was extended to June 4, 2021. While registration numbers are being confirmed, they are much lower than virtual school enrolment during this year. Elementary enrolment was 1,400 students this year and currently 202 students are enrolled for 2021-2022. Secondary enrolment was 650 students this year and currently sits at 140 students. These figures include students who receive School to Community Services.

The Ministry of Education has provided reduced funding to support Virtual School during 2021-2022 and boards can only spend half of funding allocated. As a result of reduced funding and smaller numbers, the 2021-2022 model will operate differently than this year.

Elementary & Secondary Virtual Schools will operate as distinct schools next year with their own structures and community, including announcements, extracurriculars, etc. Students will not be connected to their home school. Unless space is available, there will not be opportunities to move between in-person learning and LDSB Virtual School options during 2021-2022. Split-grade classes may be required for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Core French programming will be offered for Grades 4 to 8. Secondary virtual students will follow the same model as face-to-face schools which is currently the quadmester model based on preliminary Ministry guidance.

Report for Information: Remote Learning Survey

Associate Superintendent of Education Stephanie Sartor shared a report on the recent Remote Learning Survey.

In the spring of 2020, the board collected feedback from students, families and staff regarding emergency remote learning. The board provided another opportunity to provide input in May. The Ministry of Education’s Program and Policy Memorandum 164 on Virtual Learning includes a requirement for boards to report specific details related to virtual learning. This follow-up survey helped gather this information.

Staff have just begun to unpack and review survey results including student voice from students in Grades 4 to 12 to consider programming adjustments and decisions related to instructional practice in virtual learning spaces going forward. The feedback on professional learning for educators will inform the board's professional learning plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

Associate Superintendent Sartor indicated that the survey results suggest common themes of connection throughout the educator, family and student experience. All stakeholder groups make specific references to challenges related to building and maintaining meaningful connection in an online environment.

Further analysis will occur to provide additional considerations for planning and learning purposes moving into the 2021-2022 school year. A snapshot of the results is provided in the graphs below. Larger versions of the graphs are available on the board website.

Reports for Information: 2021-2022 Budget

Superintendent of Business Craig Young presented the 2021-2022 Budget Repot package for information. Trustees approved the 2021-2022 Budget earlier in the meeting agenda via the Consent Agenda.

Vice Chair Gingrich, as Chair of Budget Committee, provided the following comments: He indicated that staff have presented a balanced budget that directs resources that support vision, values and priorities of the Board, as outlined in its multi-year Strategic Plan with a focus on student achievement and well-being.

The majority of operating budget is directed to student instruction and relates directly to classroom supports. Board has also used some of its unallocated accumulated surplus to address budgetary concerns raised during consultation process. The budget is compliant with Ministry of Education requirements, with total operating expenditures of $260.6 million, a decrease of $1 million over last year, and capital expenditures of $23.8 million.

Vice Chair Gingrich thanked Trustees for their time and thorough review of staff reports, input from stakeholders and for always keeping students at forefront of our budget deliberations. He shared that ongoing provincial changes to education funding will continue to impact future school board budgets and Trustees will continue to engage with the government to ensure appropriate and flexible funding to benefit all students.

Review the 2021-2022 Budget Report.

Report Requiring Decision: Short-Term Borrowing Resolutions

Superintendent of Business Craig Young presented a report on Short-Term Borrowing Resolutions, an annual "housekeeping" item.

He shared that the Education Act requires the Treasurer of the Board to furnish to the bank a copy of the resolution(s) authorizing the borrowing of funds to meet cash flow requirements. Periodically, the board is required to borrow funds for current operating purposes to provide interim financing until revenues are received from municipalities and province. The board is also required to arrange short-term bridge financing during construction of major capital projects, capital additions/retrofits and for School Condition Improvement projects.

Staff recommend he Board authorize signing officers to enter into agreements with bank. Trustees approve the recommendation as presented.

Notice of Motion: Review name of school

Trustees voted unanimously to initiate a renaming process for École Sir John A. Macdonald Public School following a Notice of Motion from Trustee Garrett Elliott.

The motion, seconded by Trustee Bob Godkin, directs board staff to initiate a renaming process that will include stakeholder consultation, specifically the Indigenous Education Advisory Committee, as outlined in Administrative Procedure 552: Naming and Renaming of Schools. The motion asks the process include a stance on reconciliation, decolonization, anti-racism, and anti-oppression principles. The renaming process will begin in September once school resumes.

Trustees also voted on a second motion by Area Trustee Godkin to remove the current school name effective June 30, 2021, and use École Kingston East Elementary School until a new name is chosen. Kingston East Elementary School was the placeholder name used while the school was under construction.

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.