February 22, 2023 Meeting of the LDSB Board of Trustees
Each meeting, a different Trustee will present the Indigenous Acknowledgement of Territory and include their own personal reflections.
Tri-Board Transportation Walking Distance, Bus Size and Efficiency
Gord Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, presented on eligibility policy, rider and route statistics, the snow day decision process, inclement weather zones, and frequently asked questions from Trustees.
Private Session Report
Trustee Godkin was called upon to Rise and Report from Private Session. A safe schools update, a legal and property update, and a labour update were discussed. No other business conducted, or motions passed.
Chair Robin Hutcheon provided the following report. She stated that she would like to take a few minutes to recognize a day that is near and dear to her heart: International Women’s Day.
I bring up International Women’s Day because we’ve spent a lot of time talking about equity lately and while I believe progress has been made, we have not achieved gender equality yet. And I’ll tell you why: in 2021 in Canada, female-identified people earned 89 cents per dollar earned by their male-identified counterparts. I do not believe this is the case in Limestone, or in education in general, but it is the case societally. Some of that discrepancy can be explained by industry variations, for instance, high-paying construction jobs are more typically held by male-identified individuals, but there remains no explanation for two thirds of that discrepancy. This is a significant wage gap and it’s an issue that I don’t believe many are aware of, particularly students. Now you know and knowing is the first step to change.
In the last few years, I’ve seen change in some areas. Dress codes, for instance, are less apt to target female bodies and certainly the job market in general has become far less rigid in terms of jobs being gendered.
We are not at equality yet. There is hope but it will not be achieved without work. And it is work for all of us. Moving forward, it is my sincere hope and belief that we will achieve this. Equity work is hard, and I know for our students, for our future, we are up for the challenge.
Director Krishna Burra provided the following report.
First term and first semester report cards have been sent home, secondary students are making course selections for next year, Choices at 9 programs have completed their processes, Choices at 7 programs will be making decisions soon, March Break is just around the corner, and planning is well underway for the 2023-2024 school year. Preparations for next year will continue to ramp up and we eagerly await the release of the budget for next school year that should be released by the province in the coming weeks.
We have had a full return to athletics and the ability to host fans and crowds for events for this entire school year. I would like to acknowledge the basketball and volleyball champions from last week. Frontenac Secondary School won senior girls volleyball and senior boys basketball. And I would like to highlight the junior girls volleyball champions from Napanee. This is the first KASSA championship for a NDSS team since KASSA was created. This is a great and notable accomplishment, and fantastic for the school. I had the pleasure of attending these finals this past Wednesday and Friday evenings. The energy at the St. Lawrence gym was electric both nights.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge LDSB secondary teacher Jon Swaine who helped coordinate the students who supported the streaming of the finals and provided play- by- play. Jon, who teaches at Bayridge Secondary, has also been acknowledged with a 2023 Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Centre for Women and Information Technology. This is a significant honour. I should also note that over the past few days, and into the coming weeks, there will be many scholarship announcements for current Grade 12 students. This will be well worth keeping an eye out for on social media as outstanding Limestone students are recognized for their amazing efforts.
A central theme connecting the reports coming forward this evening and engagements that will be occurring in the coming weeks is feedback and voice. As we plan and continue to look for areas of improvement, collecting voice and actively engaging with a range of stakeholders is an essential component of our work as a public education system. Tonight, Trustees will hear feedback as it relates to the school year calendar for 2023-2024, as well as thoughts on exploring the possibility of a fall break in the future. In addition, Trustees will hear the general feedback we collected from board staff as it relates to operational components of board operations in Financial Services, Facility Services, Information Technology Services and Human Resources. There will be active engagement as part of the Special Education Review. In the coming weeks we will be engaging with families regarding registration for virtual school for September, budget consultation, and the Board’s strategic plan.
This voice and feedback is critical to ensure that we are being responsive and consistently looking for areas of improvement. A position open to learning is required at the system level and in every school and classroom across Limestone. There is always room for improvement, and as Maya Angelou so wisely stated, “when you know better, do better.” We are all on a learning journey and missteps will occur en route, but the important focus needs to continue to be on learning in these situations, growing, and focusing on the needs of each student.
This is what education is all about, and as a system we must live by, and model, these words and expect the same of all staff. This also includes the need for us to consistently be responsive and open to feedback. Given the continuing need for us to focus on equity, inclusion, Indigenous education, and ensuring the protection of all protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code, this stance is critical.
Student Trustee Report
Student Trustee Julia Kolosov provided the Student Trustee Report.
The Student Trustee election results have been confirmed with Andrea Wang from KSS accepting the role of Urban Student Trustee, Ava O’Keefe from SHS agreeing to assume the role of the Rural Student Trustee, and Emily Eckloff from LSS taking on the role of the Indigenous Student Trustee for the 2023-24 school year.
We are planning to have a welcome meeting at our next interschool council in March to introduce the new Student Trustees in person and gradually begin integrating them into the work that we do. I have already connected with Emily and spoke about how we can work together to ensure a smooth integration and transition into this new role so that she is well prepared and can hit the ground running when she officially starts in the role as the new Indigenous Student Trustee.
The plan is to have Emily get involved in the activities and the initiatives to learn about them and attend one or two Board meetings and interschool council meetings. I will also introduce and include her into the Indigenous network at the next OSTA-AECO meeting where she can attend and participate in our meeting discussions that are focused on student engagement and Indigenous cultural initiatives that we run within our respective school boards.
Last week, Mohammed and I went to Ottawa for the Board Council Conference, which is part of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association. As part of professional development at the conference, we learned how to effectively formulate our opinions and present them at Board meetings and public venues. We participated in mock debates and presentations about how to effectively present our opinions and arguments regarding proposed motions. We also participated in discussions with Student Trustees from other school boards about our respective board’s achievements, challenges and initiatives to highlight certain achievements and share best practices so we can adopt them at different school boards across the province.
For example, I found it very important and timely to talk about the Student Trustee elections that we just finished for the Student Trustee positions in our organization. We discussed how other school boards use case study components during Student Trustee elections to assess candidates' leadership skills and ability to solve problems, as well as effectively communicate and work with others.
We also discussed that the majority of school boards in the province run their Student Trustee elections with both the Trustee candidates and the voting committee members being present in person during the elections. Following these practices will be helpful for our school board to consistently select Student Trustees who can demonstrate their leadership and their ability to work as part of a team and tackle real-life issues in a collaborative fashion.
Reports for Information
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR
The full report is available in the Board Meeting Agenda Package on Pages 24-29.
Associate Superintendent Patty Gollogly provided trustees with information regarding the planning of the 2023-2024 School Year Calendar and the two options presented in the stakeholder survey.
Provincial Regulation 304 School Year Calendar, Professional Activity Days requires that a regular school year start on or after September 1 and end on or before June 30. Every school year shall include a minimum of 194 school days.
In Limestone District School Board, the 194 school days are made up of seven PA Days and 187 instructional days. Examination days for secondary schools fall under instructional days.
The Board shall submit an approved school year calendar to the Ministry of Education by March 1, 2023. A school year calendar that deviates from Regulation 304 must be approved by the Ministry of Education and is referred to as a modified calendar. The three school boards in the Triboard Consortium (LDSB, HPEDSB, and ALCDSB) have traditionally agreed upon a common calendar to share transportation costs.
The two options were presented:
While LDSB is not considering a different school year calendar model for 2023-2024. LDSB is exploring a potential idea for a future school year calendar. This alternative model would include starting the school year the week prior to Labour Day at the end of August, which would allow us to create a fall break at the end of October or early November. This would not impact other traditional breaks in December/January, March, or the rest of July/August.
We are exploring the fall break option due to increases in absences that typically occur in November for Limestone students and staff. Other wellbeing data also suggests that breaking up the period from Labour Day to the December/January break may be beneficial for students and staff. Given this potential model would deviate from the provincial template and Regulation 304, Ministry approval would be required.
Preliminary Results: Yes 53% and No 47%.
This report be received for information purposes.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: CORPORATE SERVICES SURVEY
Director of Education Burra provided trustees with an overview of feedback received from LDSB's first Corporate Services survey.
In June of 2022, all Limestone employees were asked to provide feedback to different operational departments within Limestone that are relevant to their specific roles and required services. The survey was open for the month of June to collect feedback regarding positive work being done in each of the departments, and areas for improvement or growth. We received feedback from almost 600 LDSB employees representing all staff positions in Limestone.
The corporate services survey provided valuable internal feedback on operational functions within Limestone including Facilities Services, Financial Services, Human Resources, and Information Technology. Results have identified both strengths and areas of growth for each operational area, as well as highlighted common themes in responses across each operational area, including the following items:
• specific, positive feedback regarding functions in each operational department;
• one-stop access to resources, information, policies, and training;
• common processes for orders and requests;
• more mentoring opportunities for employees; and
• clear communication and updates on submitted orders and requests in each operational area.
This feedback is useful in providing staff in each department with positive feedback regarding their work, and areas for potential growth to better support employees across the district.
At the October 26, 2022 Board Meeting, trustees approved the areas of focus for the 2022-2023 Strategic Plan. One of the areas is Innovation 1.2 Operational Enhancements (Communications, Facility Services, Financial Services, Human Resources, & Information Technology Services). As a result, we will report on work in this area as part of the Mid-Year Update (spring 2023) and End-of-Year Report (fall 2023) for the Strategic Plan. The Operational Enhancements area of focus will allow us to look at continued growth and improvement in service to the system and be responsive to the feedback collected from staff in the Corporate Services Survey. Moving forward the plan will be to seek similar, formal feedback every 2-3 years.
This report be received for information purposes.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: VIRTUAL SCHOOL UPDATE
The full report is available in the Board Agenda Package on pages 32-34.
Associate Superintendents Stephanie Sartor and Steve Hedderson provided trustees with an update on the status of Elementary Virtual School and Secondary Virtual School.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, all students and staff moved from in-person learning to remote learning. This learning continued through to the end of the school year in June 2020. In August 2020, the Ministry of Education released Program and Policy Memorandum (PPM) 164, outlining the requirements for remote learning.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the Ministry of Education required all school boards to offer a virtual school option for students/families. While in-person learning resumed in September 2020 for the majority of students and educators, during the 2020-2021 school year between 8%-10% of LDSB students participated in virtual learning as the model of choice. Several opportunities were provided over the course of the year for students to transition from one model to the other. Limestone was able to accommodate this flexibility to students/families by utilizing additional COVID-19 funding.
During the 2020-2021 school year, with the exception of students with significant special education needs, the vast majority of students and educators had to again move to a virtual learning model for a few weeks in January 2021 and from the middle of April to the end of the school year due to provincial direction based on the ongoing pandemic.
During the 2021-2022 school year, there was a brief period during the winter of 2022 when students and educators had to move to virtual learning.
There are currently 70 students enrolled in elementary virtual school, spread amongst 4 multi-grade classes, and 137 students enrolled in secondary virtual school.
LDSB recognizes that while enrolment continues to decrease, virtual school remains an important choice for some families. As a result, LDSB will plan to staff and offer an elementary virtual school and a secondary virtual school option during the 2023-2024 school year. In March, current families with students in virtual school, and other Limestone families will have an opportunity to request placement in the virtual school for 2023-2024.
The continuing availability of provincial pandemic/learning recovery funding will be an important factor in how we can support the virtual school and maintain flexibility for students/families to transition from one model to another. The absence of continued funding for 2023-24 would impact potential structures and support for the virtual school.
This report be received for information purposes.
Limestone District School Board
Location: 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, ON, Canada