Boardroom Briefs

February 10, 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.

Private Session Update

Vice-Chair Tom Gingrich provided a public report on topics discussed in private session which is held prior to Public Session. The private session minutes from the Board Meeting of January 13, 2021 were approved. Trustees received updates on safe schools, legal matters, labour and a property update about KCVI. As per regulation 444/98, the second 90-day offer period has now commenced and expires on May 5, 2021.

The labour update resulted in the following motion being passed: That the Board ratify the tentative collective agreement as presented between the Board and the OSSTF Teachers.

No other items were discussed or subject to a motion.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan remarked that February is a turning point in the school year, half-way through, and the 100th day of learning is being celebrated in classrooms.

On behalf of all Trustees, she extended continued appreciation to students, staff and families for navigating the extraordinary and unexpected impacts of COVID-19. Together, we have and will continue to respond to what works best for students. The health and safety of students and staff remain the Board's priority.

In the next few months Trustees will be working hard to modernize and update the Board’s policies and supporting documents that guide us in our work. It is an essential part of a Trustee’s responsibility and will be of benefit to future Boards.

Director's Update

Director of Education Krishna Burra stated schools have been successfully functioning since the Limestone District School Board reopened for in-person learning on January 25. The system continues to be dexterous in adapting to changing circumstances and evolving information.

KFL&A Public Heath has made it very clear that the region's green status is not a return to normal: safety measures and public health guidelines regarding limiting face-to-face interactions and movement are critical to ensure COVID variants do not spike in the region.

Limestone DSB has had several communications with Public Health about asymptomatic testing in schools and will follow their lead in rolling out any testing. This will likely be tied to a confirmed positive case in a school.

The provincial government released additional dollars to support school boards in the fight against COVID. As a result, Limestone received almost $570,000 to support improved air quality and ventilation; just over $610,000 for overall health and safety; almost $80,000 for student transportation; and almost $740,000 to support additional devices and/or connectivity. Director Burra stated that the Board has not received further details regarding the recent funding announcement, other than the commitment to support student nutrition programs, summer learning opportunities, equity initiatives, and mental health. An update to Trustees regarding the allocation of these new funds is forthcoming, once more information has been received.

Presentation on English-as-a-Second Language Program

Associate Superintendent Stephanie Sartor introduced the English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) presentation. Vice-Principal Wilma Pettingill leads the ESL team. Tim Ley, a K-12 ESL Itinerant educator, Lindsay Bell an elementary itinerant educator, and Katlynd McLaren a secondary itinerant shared the important work that they do every day to meet needs of students. There are 7 educators that comprise the Limestone's ESL team.

There has been a significant increase in the number of newcomers and refugee claimants choosing Kingston as their home over the past decade, and Limestone DSB has built an ESL team at the elementary and secondary levels.

Staff outlined the arrival process which includes school transition meetings and confirmation of housing. Settlement workers are assigned to help with all aspects of the school day.

The initial assessment is part of Ministry’s STEP program which includes an oral interview, picture response, first language reading and writing samples, early literacy tasks and/or leveled reading and writing tasks. Learners are placed in a regular classroom, and given direct or indirect support. All learners remain with their peer group for the majority of the day.

The ESL team has a goal of altering the support model to allow for more in-class support to see what is happening in the regular classroom, and building capacity by sharing strategies that we know work best with learners. The goal is always to support students to graduation.

Student and Principal quotes on ESL programming and student success.

Presentation on Tri-Board Student Transportation Services

Trustees welcomed Gord Taylor CEO of Tri-Board. The comprehensive review included a Limestone DSB service profile, ride times, safety plans, COVID-19 protocols and outlined some current and future challenges.

OPSBA Report

Trustee French indicated there was no Board update of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) but did remark that the first virtual Public Education Symposium was well attended.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustee Quadir thanked educators, administrators, caretakers, educational assistants, guidance counselors, adolescent care workers and all other staff across the district for ensuring a smooth return to in-person learning. Students are generally ecstatic to be back in class and this has eased a multitude of concerns with remote learning and its short and long-term effects on mental health. Students have expressed gratitude for flexibility and the encouragement they have received from teachers and support staff.

The Limestone Gay-Straight Alliance and Indigenous Student Drop-In have been active in creating space for students to connect online. Trustee Quadir added that students are finding creative ways to participate in extracurriculars and events such as spirit weeks, sports, Relay for Life, DECA, and the Model UN, to name a few.

Trustee Putnam thanked everyone who was involved with updating the accessibility of free menstrual products for students in Grade 7-12 schools. She said she is so proud to see how quickly this improvement was put into place. Students are so excited to see these products easily available. Trustee Putnam said she will stay in contact with student leaders over the coming months while they observe how this change is working over time.

Trustee Traviss reported the Indigenous Youth Drop-In has had great participation and plans to showcase each secondary school's Indigenous culture in the coming weeks. Limestone DSB Student Trustee elections are coming up and he, and Student Trustees Putnam and Quadir will be working to promote this student voice and leadership opportunity to all students.

Reports for Information

Administrative Report: Virtual School Update

Director Burra reminded Trustees that Limestone's Elementary Virtual School began with initial enrolment of 1,241 students. Initially it was staffed by teachers requiring accommodations then those who had been surplused to their school through September re-organization and staffing process.

Families were given another opportunity to opt-in or out of in-school instruction by October 29, 2020. For the start of November, the Elementary Virtual School had 1,425 students.

Secondary Virtual School started with 530 students and that grew to 598 students nearing the end of Octomester 2. Current enrolment as of February 10 is 1,213 elementary and 648 secondary students.

An additional opt-in/opt-out opportunity was opened to families with a deadline of February 19. This will likely be the last opportunity for this school year. Enrollment in the LDSB Virtual Schools will continue to be monitored, and adjustments made as space allows.

Based on the number of requests received, staffing decisions will be made to accommodate family choices. The goal will be to avoid any significant reorganization impacting students and staff in either learning context. The current timeline is to provide a transition date the week of March 8. This date may have to change based on the volume of requested change and the staffing ramifications.

Administrative Report: 2021-2022 School Year Calendar

Associate Superintendent Gilliam provided an overview of the Provincial regulations stating there is a requirement for the school year to 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 DSB, 194 school days are made up of 7 Professional Activity Days and 187 instructional days. Examination days (10 in total) for secondary schools are considered instructional days.

The calendar is prepared in consultation with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board and Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board stakeholders, as busing is shared.

The Draft 2021-2022 School Year Calendar has three options and takes into account Ministry expectations and past experience with respect to calendar submissions.

Option 1 – Ministry Calendar

The school year would start on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Friday, September 3 would be a PA Day for staff; no students would attend. School would resume on Tuesday, September 7, following Labour Day. Semester 2 would begin on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, with a PA Day on Monday, January 31, 2022. Monday, June 27, 2022 would be the last day of classes for students and Tuesday, June 28, 2022 would be a PA Day.

While this option provides for a better transition between Semester 1 and 2, and ends prior to June 30, 2022, having students start the school year prior to Labour Day is not usually a favoured option with families and business partners.

Option 2

The school year would start on Friday, September 3, 2021. This would be a PA Day for staff. Students would begin classes on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Semester 2 would begin on Thursday, February 3, with a PA Day on Wednesday, February 2, 2022. Wednesday, June 29, 2022 would be the last day of classes for students and Thursday, June 30, 2022 would be a PA Day.

This option provides for a traditional start for students following Labour Day. The mid-week PA Day for Semester 2 turn-around is not ideal, but unavoidable based on the expectation that the semesters are equally divided into 97 days. A mid-semester turnaround has occurred previously when necessary.

Option 3

The school year would start on Thursday, September 2, 2021. Both Thursday, September 2 and Friday, September 3, 2021 would be PA Days. Students would begin classes on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Semester 2 would begin on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, with a PA Day on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. Tuesday, June 28, 2022 would be the last day of classes for students and Wednesday, June 29, 2022 would be a PA Day.

This option provides for two PA Days to start the year for staff. This calendar option follows this year, when three days were allocated to provide for COVID training and protocols to be put in place.

Having two PA Days at the start of the school year calendar provides for potential staff training and professional development.

Limestone DSB parents, guardians, caregivers, students, staff, and community partners (daycares, municipalities, Public Health, business associations, etc.) will be invited to provide feedback through an online survey. Both the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board and Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board will also conduct surveys and meet with stakeholder groups. All three school boards will share this information with their respective Board of Trustees for final approval prior to May 1, 2021.

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.