January 18, 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.
A Constant Awareness
Private Session Report
Trustee Godkin was called upon to Rise and Report from Private Session. A safe schools update was discussed. No other business conducted, or motions passed.
I am so proud to sit here today surrounded by people who care so much about children and education which is to say, our collective future.
When I sat down to write my remarks for tonight, it was hard to know what to say. We’re still in survival mode and everything feels like strange days.
So, I would like to take these moments I have this evening to thank families. Thank you for navigating the last three years so gracefully with us. It’s been quite a ride of uncertainty and making do; the struggles are real and can seem unending.
For the families who are struggling right now, I want to tell a story. The story of dropping my three young children off at school on Hallowe’en. It was a Monday, and no one likes Mondays, of course. When we arrived at the school my two boys went in just fine. My daughter, who is 7, was not fine. She insisted that Hallowe’en was in fact a holiday and we should not be at school. What ensued was the worst meltdown I’ve ever seen from any of my children – I have four. I was punched, kicked and screamed at in the school lobby. Over and over until the principal could get my child into her office. That evening my daughter wanted me to take her out trick or treating. Like nothing ever happened. I’ve realized that being in grade two this year, she’s never had a normal school year. The pandemic started when she was in Kindergarten and while we, as adults, may be able to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, so-to-speak, and carry on, sometimes children are not.
In these times, it has become increasingly important that children in school are looked after by kind, caring adults. That they are welcomed regardless of how they’re expressing themselves and given the support they need, even if they don’t realize they need it at the time. And in our schools, the contribution from families helps make this happen. Families that go out of their way to volunteer in classrooms and at recess. Families that make sure hot lunches happen and snack buckets get filled. Families that fundraise for whatever a school might need. Families that organize holiday events in schools and volunteer on field trips.
This past Monday, my daughter again was having a hard time and I had to leave her at school crying. I knew she would be okay because I know that support is there for her. I’m always confident that staff are there to meet students where they are and give them the individual support they need. And it’s not just that support from school staff, but also the support from the families that gives me that confidence and makes a school feel like home.
So thank you families for all that you do and for helping to keep our schools full of love and feeling like homes.
Chair Robin Hutcheon
Good evening Trustees and the viewing public. While it is already past the middle of January, and the holiday season seems like a distant memory, Happy New Year to everyone.
The New Year always is a time of reflection, both thinking about the year behind, and the year ahead. I shared some reflections in the fall regarding the work of the previous board. However in education, there is always more work to do, and as a board we continue to have significant work ahead. In 2023, we will launch and consolidate a renewed or revised Strategic Plan for the communities we serve. This process will involve significant stakeholder engagement and be a primary focus for us as a Board in shaping our strategic focus into the second half of this decade, and ensuring we are prioritizing the right work to best support students.
While it is only January, preliminary preparations are already underway for preparing for the 2023-2024 school year. In the next few weeks, we anticipate the release of provincial funding to help support our planning for next year. Choices program information has been shared with the community and students will be engaging in those processes. In addition, last week, this week, and next week secondary schools are engaging with grade 8 students and families to provide information to further support the transition to secondary school in the fall. And more senior secondary students will be considering expanded opportunities available for the fall. In the coming weeks, the Kindergarten registration process will also begin.
While teaching and learning have continued to be a focus in schools to support student learning and well-being, it has also been wonderful to see the range of extracurricular activities taking place in schools. As one example of many, I had the pleasure of visiting the Robotics event at Calvin Park/LCVI this past weekend. It was great to observe a couple of hours of the competition and to see the Calvin and LC students competing, but also other Limestone students who compete on a community-based team. The event was very well-attended by teams from across the province, and there is no question the students who were participating have significant skills in preparing for, and competing in, the challenges of the event. With the current provincial focus on STEM activities and curriculum like coding, robotics, and the computer science curriculum, I have no doubt that we will see more schools start participating in similar events.
This evening Trustees the agenda contains several updates: the multi-year capital and school renewal project plan, the revised estimates for quarter 1 of the 2022-2023 school year, an update on year two of the mental health and substance use strategy, and an update on staff and student absences. In addition, as requested in December, there is an update from KFL&A Public Health.
That concludes my update for this evening. Thank you Chair Hutcheon.
Student Trustee Report
Student Trustee Jackson and Kolosov provided the Student Trustee Report:
Good evening everyone. On January 10th, 2023 we held our monthly interschool council meeting, here at the board office. We had representatives from all secondary schools present at our meeting, with some attending in person and some joining online. We began our meeting with a general discussion to hear events and initiatives taking place at each school. These general discussions allow schools to share their successful experiences to inspire each other. Many schools outlined their holiday successes including Holiday dinners for younger students, holiday shows, spirit weeks, food drives and blood drives. As chairs of the interschool council we were blown away with the work our fellow students have done in their schools, so I want to share some specific work that was brought up. Students at LSS have spearheaded many initiatives and have participated in activities to better their leadership qualities. Including making goody bags that were delivered to Fairmount Home in Inverary, a hat and mitt drive where the donations went to the feeder schools of LSS, and some students attended a Student Leadership Conference in Niagara Falls which included lots of workshops and opportunities for developing leadership skills. Additionally, students from NDSS participated in a fundraiser for United Way, where students would pay to throw pies in the faces of student council members. This raised $200 for United Way.
As the leaders of the ISC, we find it important to identify and highlight significant events happening that we think would be good for the school councils to take part in. During this meeting, I expressed to the ISC that Black History month is approaching, and to begin planning and preparing to take part in events to honour and celebrate the achievements of Black Canadians. We heard from representatives at LCVI, that they are planning a Panel of Black Excellence, with Black participants speaking about their experiences in Kingston, as well as successes and struggles they have encountered, and also offering advice to Black individuals observing the panel. The representatives also told us they will be screening movies at school, involving predominantly black cast members, along with other events for students and parents during this time, which were not specified yet. We are looking forward to our next meeting to hear more great things from each school.
This month we continued planning and discussing the elections for the Indigenous Student Trustee position as well the plan for the Rural and Urban Student Trustee positions. The election of the Indigenous Student Trustee is scheduled to be held on February 6. I look forward to the election date as we anticipate a great turnout with at least four candidates that I know of who plan to run for the Indigenous Student Trustee position. This will also be our first in-person election for the position and will likely have a different dynamic than the previously held online elections. The event will be a great opportunity for the students to get to know the candidates and get involved into the work and initiatives that we are implementing for Indigenous students within the school board. On a different note, Kelly and I are making plans to expand the Knowledge-sharing program to a school on the Tyendinaga Reserve on a pilot basis to connect students in the local area and develop a strong support system for Indigenous students on and off the reserve.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: MULTI-YEAR CAPITAL AND SCHOOL RENEWAL PROJECT PLAN
The full report is available in the Board Meeting Agenda Package on Pages 36-40.
To provide the Board with the Multi-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan for the current school year and to make a recommendation for approval.
Starting in 2011-2012 the Board prepared a 10-Year Capital - School Renewal Project Plan (the plan) that is updated each year. The project categories are now aligned with Ministry Asset reporting and include all assets of school buildings and sites. Each category has projects which improve or replace aging infrastructure. The purpose of the plan is to highlight proposed school renewal project activities under the following project types:
- Site Improvements
- Communications (ITS)
- Interior Renovations
- Building Envelope
At the June 15, 2022, Board Meeting the 2022-2023 Budget was approved including a capital
budget consisting of $21.3 million in School Renewal funded projects.
School Renewal $ 4,556,953
School Condition Improvements $ 16,751,791
Total $ 21,308,744
The 2022-2023 Budget contained a preliminary plan of proposed renewal projects by category type to highlight how the $21.3 million would be invested.
The Facility Services Department has developed the Capital and School Renewal Project Plan based upon the VFA Building Condition reports for all schools; assessing local needs with school staff, analysis from maintenance work orders; knowledge from facilities trades and maintenance staff, and expertise from engineering and other consultants.
The Multi-Year Capital plan includes an updated 2022-2023 listing of $21,308,744 projects by
school or various schools (Appendix A). Project work estimates are based upon the best available project scope and costing information at the time of evaluation.
For the 2022-2023 to 2031-2032 school years, the 10-year plan includes an estimated $4,500,000 in proposed annual school renewal project activity per year based upon prior year Ministry funding levels. This plan may/will change to reflect actual Ministry school renewal funding levels when announced.
That the Board:
- Approve the Multi-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan.
- That a revised copy of the 10-Year Capital and School Renewal Project Plan be posted on the Board’s website.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: 2022-2023 REVISED ESTIMATES AND INTERIM FINANCIAL REPORT FOR Q1
To report on the 2022-2023 revised estimates and interim financial operating expenditures for the period ending November 30, 2022 (Quarter 1).
2022-2023 Revised Estimates: The Ministry requires school boards to submit revised estimates by December 15 of each year, reflecting updated enrolment, revenue, and expenditures.
This report provides an update on enrolment and staffing changes since the budget was approved by the Board on June 15, 2022. Also included, are updated operating and capital sections of the budget, reflecting revenue and expenditure information at revised estimates.
Average daily enrolment (ADE) is the basis on which most Ministry grants are calculated and is based upon the average of enrolment at two established counts in the school year.
The revised estimates include updated enrolment projections based upon actual enrolment levels at the October 31 count date and projected enrolments for the upcoming March 31 count date. (See Appendix 1 for more information.)
Overall enrolment is expected to be 355 ADE higher in the 2022-2023 school year than originally forecast in the budget, with the elementary panel increasing by 137 students, and the secondary panel increasing by 218 students.
There was an increase of 30.6 FTE staffing overall. An additional 28.9 (FTE) teaching staff, 0.5 additional (FTE) educational assistants, (0.4) reduction (FTE) para-professionals, 2.5 additional (FTE) Coordinators and Consultants, and (0.9) reduction (FTE) Continuing Education. No other staffing changes were made.
28.5 (FTE) of the net increase was a result of increased enrolment, 2.1 (FTE) of the net increase was a result of PPF funding announcements.
Operating Budget Revenue
Grant for Student Needs (GSN) - operating allocation increased overall by $3.3M. An increase of $5.1M in various grants such as pupil foundation, school foundation, special education, language, transportation, school operations, and Ministry Funded in-kind PPE, which are offset by a decrease of $1.8M in various grants such as teacher qualification and experience, and the Indigenous Education grant.
Other Government Grants - increased by $2.3M primarily due to new PPF grant announcements and other supplemental grants. (See Appendix 2 and Appendix 2A for more information.) It is important to note that PPF grants are for specific government initiatives and are supported by detailed agreements, accountability, and reporting criteria. These agreements normally indicate that any underspending is to be returned.
Tuition Fees – decreased by $0.3M primarily due to a reduction to Continuing Education fees that are now included in other Government grants.
Other Revenues – increased by $1.1M primarily due to increased interest income projections.
Over-all operating revenues at the 2022-2023 revised estimates has increased from $268,843,493 to $275,296,673 or a net increase of $6,453,180.
Operating Budget Expenditures
Over-all operating expenditures have increased by $6,928,789 to $277,826,881 which is $2,530,208 greater than the total operating revenues.
The additional $6.9M in expenditures is a result of increased salary and benefits expenditures due to staffing changes, expenditures pertaining to new PPF grants received from the Ministry, additional computer expenditures, Ministry Funded in-kind PPE, and planned use of the accumulated surplus internally appropriated funds. (See Appendix 3 and Appendix 3A for more information.)
Capital Budget Revenue and Capital Budget Expenditures
For the 2022-2023 revised estimates there was no change to the School Condition Improvement funding allocation. School Renewal funding allocation decreased by $193,175. Total capital revenue and expenditures reflect a decrease of $169,433, for a total of $24,116,701. (See Appendix 4 and Appendix 5 for more information.)
Interim Financial - Operating Expenditures for the period November 30, 2022 (Quarter 1):
Interim financial operating expenditures for the period ending November 30, 2022 (Quarter 1) are being presented in a similar format as the 2022-2023 operating budget, indicating the amount spent by expenditure category and the associated percentage.
As at Quarter 1, $71,004,215 of the $277,826,881 operating budget or 26% has been spent. This is comparable to the 25% results from the same quarter last year.
It is important to note, that expenditures are based upon items paid within the stated period. Certain expenditures may be non-cyclical in nature, which may lead to higher or lower expenditures within a given period. (See Appendix 6 for more information.)
That this report be received for information purposes.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: YEAR 2 UPDATE ON THE 2021-2024 MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE STRATEGY
The full report is available in the Board Agenda Package on pages 52-68.
To provide Trustees with highlights from the completion of Year 1 of the 2021-2024 Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy, as well as some key goals and objectives for Year 2.
As per School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO), a Board Mental Health Strategy is a “written expression of school board priorities and goals in the area of mental health, and the related initiatives designed to enhance student well-being in the short and longer term.” Each Ontario school board is required to have a three-year mental health and addictions strategy, along with a one-year action plan that defines priorities and actions related to school mental health.
At the October 2021 Education, Policy and Operations Committee Meeting, Limestone’s Mental Health Lead, Laura Conboy, shared the 2021-2024 Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy.
Limestone committed to monitoring this strategy through the development of annual action plans.
These annual action plans will set out goals within each area of focus of the Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy:
- Relationship-based approach to student well-being and achievement;
- Mental Health and Substance Use knowledge;
- Student Mental Health and Substance Use support;
- Culturally Responsive Health Promotion, Prevention, and Intervention
- Pathways To/Through/From Care; and
- Equip and Support Staff
That the Trustees of the Limestone District School Board receive this report and a copy of the 2021- 2024 Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy, and the 2022-23 Action Plan.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT: STAFF AND STUDENT ABSENCE UPDATE
To apprise Trustees of absence trends across the district from November 2022 to January 18, 2023.
As the landscape of illnesses evolves, the absence rates in our system continue to fluctuate. This report will highlight the trends for both staff and student absences for the six-week period leading into the December break. A verbal update will be provided at the meeting for absence trends between January 9, 2023, and January 18, 2023, relative to staff absences upon the return to in-person learning in January 2022.
There are several reasons staff may require coverage, including, but not limited to, sick leave (majority of reasons currently), medical appointments, personal leave, bereavement, professional development and student activities. It should be noted that long-term absences also impact statistics. Since mid- November 2022, we have had an overall average of 366 daily absences.
From the graph below, you will see that absences related specifically to sick leave were highest in mid- November, dropping slightly over the next four weeks with a decline leading into the break. It should be noted that week 6 was a four-day week, given the December Break commenced on December 23, 2022.
The five-day forecast from January 12, 2023, shows a continuing decline in absences. However, absences will increase based on morning-of absences that are not yet entered. A verbal report will be provided to share the data from January 9, 2023 – January 18, 2023, relative to the first eight days upon the return to in-person learning in January 2022.
Comparatively speaking, looking at the same period last year, the overall average for all absences for this period was 362 absences per day, which mirrors the overall average of 366 absences per day for the current period as noted above. During this period last year, we had fewer absences due to sick leave, although there was a similar trend for the four weeks leading into the December break.
Upon reviewing elementary and secondary teachers, educational assistants, and early childhood educators specifically, absences for reasons of sick leave have been slightly higher, for this school year; however, the week leading into the Break had fewer absences this year than last. Overall, trends seem to be stable.
Student Absences due to illness Related Reasons
We continue to work closely with KFL&A Public Health in monitoring student absences due to
illness. LDSB has created an absence due to illness reporting dashboard to support our school communities with information about Limestone schools. In recent weeks, this data is what we have been monitoring and we make the information publicly available on our website.
The information presented in this dashboard is provided on a voluntary basis by families when reporting their child’s absence from school due to illness. The dashboard only includes absences due to illness on a school level and does not include information on a grade or classroom level. As indicated, we have made the decision to share this information with everyone because we are tracking the numbers closely and continuing to work with KFL&A Public Health in monitoring Limestone schools, and we experienced some higher student absences at the start of November.
Currently we are seeing a downward trend across the district in absences due to illness. From
November 1, 2022, to November 30, 2022, we had a peak in absences due to illness on November 08, 2022 with 1429 students absent and on November 18, 2022 we had a low of 754. From December 1, 2022, to December 22, 2022, we had a peak in absences due to illness on December 5, 2022, with 1257 students absent and on December 16, 2022, we had a low of 456 students absent due to illness.
Comparing last year’s data during the same time period, we had a high on November 26, 2021 with 1318 students absent and a low on November 11, 2021 of 566 students absent due to illness. On December 14, 2021, with 1328 student absences due to illness and a low on December 3, 2021, with 818 student absences.
A verbal report will be provided at the Board Meeting on January 18 to share the student absence data from January 9, 2023 – January 18, 2023, relative to the first few days upon the return to in-person learning in January 2022.
That this report be received for information purposes.
Submission to LDSB for meeting of January 18, 2023
Dear Limestone District School Board Trustees,
In response to your December meeting request for an update on respiratory illness and hospital capacity in the KFL&A region, I am providing you with local public health data and context. I am grateful that after more than two years of significant adjustments, you are still wanting to prioritize the health and well-being of both students and staff.
Screening daily for symptoms, staying home when sick, staying up-to-date on all vaccines, and practicing frequent hand hygiene to help limit transmission of respiratory illness is key. In addition to other layers of protection, KFL&A Public Health is strongly recommending mask use in all indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings. This will help reduce risks for severe illness and protect our region.
The use of well-fitting masks can protect individuals from contracting respiratory viruses and also help to reduce the spread of viruses from those who are infected. It's important to note that even with masking, additional preventive measures should be taken, like avoiding close contact with sick individuals, staying home when sick, and regular hand washing, to lower the risk of contracting or spreading respiratory illness. Additionally, wearing a mask does not replace the importance of getting the COVID-19 and influenza vaccine.
We have created and shared communication toolkits, that included resources supporting mask wearing in indoor spaces, that amplified this information to our local school boards and other partners. In November a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Health with an updated call-to-action aimed at parents and caregivers was shared with school boards and child-care settings.
Current Respiratory Illness Data
As is typical during respiratory season, there are multiple circulating respiratory viruses in KFL&A currently, including COVID-19. Recent COVID-19 indicators, including percent positivity, wastewater concentrations in the Kingston and Amherstview areas, and local hospitalizations suggest that COVID-19 activity is increasing locally. An increase in COVID-19 was not unexpected post winter holidays.
COVID-19 strains are constantly changing and fluctuating. Currently in our region, the majority of tested cases are the BQ.1 Omicron sub strain. In recent weeks, there has been considerable media attention on the XBB.1.5 sub strain. While we have seen cases of the new XBB.1.5 sub strain locally, there is no evidence at this time that local cases are increasing.
KFL&A Public Health continues to closely monitor all COVID-19 indicators and evidence of new strains.
The influenza A virus started earlier than usual this season. The KFL&A region saw a peak in influenza A during late November/early December, and currently very few new influenza cases are being reported within the region. RSV and other seasonal viruses such as rhinoviruses and enteroviruses continue to be presented in our community at fluctuating
Respiratory activity in local emergency departments (ED) is currently below typical (pre-pandemic) levels, with approximately 11% of ED visits during the week ending January 7 being respiratory-related. Historically, there is a spike in respiratory-related ED visits over the winter holidays, which was not observed this year.
Most notably, after an extremely high and early peak in early November, ED visits in both dchool-aged (five to nine years of age) and younger children (zero to four years of age) have been decreasing and are now far below typical (prepandemic) seasonal rates. Additionally, pneumonia, influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19 related admissions in children of all ages are similar to anticipated seasonal rates. Overall, admissions for pneumonia, ILI and COVID-19 during this season were similar to the typical winter holiday peak of pneumonia and ILI admissions in the pre-pandemic years.
Further local epidemiological information can be found on our COVID-19 dashboard, and on our Viral Respiratory Mapper.
Use of infection prevention and control measures
Prevention of respiratory illness depends on a multi-layered approach. Combined personal actions can contribute to protecting the population when applying multiple protective measures including:
- Wearing well-fitted masks in indoor public spaces, including schools and childcare centers.
- Staying up-to-date with COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.
- Monitoring daily for symptoms and staying home when sick.
- Practicing frequent hand hygiene.
- Cleaning high-touch surfaces regularly.
All these measures are recommended but none are currently mandatory under provincial legislation.
Throughout the pandemic, KFL&A Public Health has consistently recommended wearing masks in indoor crowded spaces, as one layer of a multi-layered approach, to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.
The situation we are currently in is different from earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, where a new virus was rapidly spreading among non-immune populations. Influenza and RSV have long been circulating among the population prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential for the community to enhance the use of multiple protective measures. The intention of expanding mask usage now is not to eliminate all transmission, but to decrease risk of transmission and possibly severe outcomes on a population level.
KFL&A Public Health will continue to communicate to keep residents of KFL&A informed about the current state of respiratory viruses and actions that individuals can take to reduce transmission. Additionally, we will maintain collaboration with schools and school board staff to monitor absenteeism and evaluate and resolve issues related to infection prevention and control within schools.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide and update on local circumstances related to respiratory illness, infection prevention and control measures and capacity.
Dr. Piotr Oglaza, MD, CPHI (C), MPH, CCFP, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer KFL&A Public Health