Boardroom Briefs

April 28, 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 indicated that during Private Session at the Education, Policy & Operations Committee Meeting on April 7, 2021, Trustee French provided an OPSBA update. There was no other business conducted or motions passed in private session.

During the private session prior to the April 28, 2021 Board Meeting, Private Session Minutes from Regular Board Meeting on March 24, 2021 and the EPOC Meeting on April 7, 2021 were approved. There was a safe schools update, a labour update and a personnel update.

A property update resulted in the following motion being passed: That Trustees authorize the Superintendent of Business to negotiate and execute the sale of surplus property in accordance with the details in the April 28, 2021 private session property report.

There was no other business conducted or motions passed in Private Session.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.

Limestone’s ongoing partnership with the City of Kingston was recognized as among the top 50 environmental sustainability projects in Canada. The Kingston Transit free student bus pass program, which began for high school students and was later expanded to include all students regardless of age, was named to the Clean 50 list of environmental projects. The student bus pass program was credited for demystifying the transit system for many youths who, without it, would not get on the bus. In addition to allowing students to ride the bus to access recreational programs, volunteer opportunities, jobs or school programs, and creating greater accessibility for Kingston-based field trips during pre-COVID times, the program is also a win for sustainability and active transportation. High school bus ridership increased from 28,000 to close to 600,000, which, prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, accounted for about 10 per cent of Kingston Transit passengers.

Trustees held the first of several Budget Committee meetings last week to prepare for the approval of the 2021-2022 operating and capital budgets. Trustees were provided with an overview of feedback received from the recent budget survey which was open to students, families, staff and the broader public. The board received 647 responses – 380 of which were from families and students. Forty-eight students responded to the survey which was wonderful to see. Participants provided Trustees with valuable feedback on the areas they feel are most important including mental health and well-being, reading and writing skills, the arts, math and outdoor education. Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey to help inform our work on the budget.

On behalf of all Trustees, I want to thank all staff in Limestone for their incredible work to once again transition students back to remote learning. Although this is the third time staff have been directed to pivot to virtual teaching and working over the past year, it is still a challenge. We know it has sometimes been difficult and even overwhelming. We tip our hats to all staff for always doing their best for students, families and each other. Thanks also to students and families for their patience and understanding as we all navigate these changes together.

Director's Update

Director of Education Krishna Burra provided the following report.

The Director shared that Limestone pivoted for a third time in 13 months to remote teaching and learning after the April Break. This transition was more efficient given work of staff to support students and families over the past year. Synchronous (live) learning remains a challenge for some educators, students and families, particularly those with young school-aged children at home. The pandemic continues to expose and exacerbate existing inequities, and as a school system, we must continue to do our best to provide critical educational services during the pandemic.

We do not know when schools will reopen to all students and understand the provincial government will use a number of public health indicators to make a decision. Staff will provide Trustees with an update regarding a number of pandemic related items, including return of some students with significant special education needs to in-person instruction this week.

Trustees will remember that in preparing for staffing of schools for 2021-2022, families with secondary students were asked to register for remote learning model. Later this week, we will be reaching out to elementary families do the same.

Earlier this year, some schools were identified as having ongoing traffic concerns. The Board works closely with our partners at the City of Kingston to help ensure safe passage to school for all students especially where there are pedestrian and/or traffic congestion issues. The Director was pleased to share that the City is implementing several traffic calming measures around several schools and will involve various combinations of traffic calming bollards, speed display devices and road markings. Each of these measures is intended to encourage slower vehicle speeds and bring heightened awareness to school zones around Sir John A. Macdonald Public School, Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute, Calvin Park Public School, Centennial Public School, Truedell Public School and Elginburg & District Public School.

In a time of significant need within the community, LDSB received three awards at virtual United Way of KFL&A Workplace Volunteer Awards & Appreciation Luncheon held earlier this month. Limestone received the Diamond Leadership Award, Sandstone Achievement Award and the Most Improved Award in the education sector. In 2020, Limestone employees surpassed our campaign goal, raising $53,379, making this year's campaign one of our most successful in recent years.

Last week, the Limestone Learning Foundation funded a presentation by Holocaust Survivor Elly Gotz on “Learning from the Past to Counter Hate.” Almost 100 classrooms at all high schools in Limestone participated in the virtual event. The response to the presentation has been overwhelmingly positive and students and staff who attended indicate the overarching message of countering hate, racial prejudice and anti-Semitism were profound. This is another way in which Limestone is working to bring anti-racism teaching and learning to every student. We thank the LLF for its support of this important work and future, potential speakers presenting to students on critical topics.

Presentation: COVID-19 & Special Education Update

Staff provided Trustees with an update on COVID-19 including special education, vaccinations and enhanced safety protocols.

Superintendent of Education Alison McDonnell explained that remote learning is in place for most students with special education needs. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are being implemented and supports provided as appropriate. Face-to-face learning was offered to students in full-time, self-contained district programs and those accessing school to community services who could not benefit from remote instruction. Decision-making tool was utilized by in school teams to make school-based decisions. Currently, there are 163 students learning in person at 28 sites across the district.

Director of Education Krishna Burra explained that vaccinations for staff based on provincial criteria were beginning. Special education workers who provide direct daily support to students are being prioritized in our region. In LDSB, more than 600 staff have been offered priority vaccinations based on the local vaccine supply. Vaccination eligibility will be expanded for education workers with an anticipated date of late May. He said that staff are also being encouraged to take advantage of other eligibility via other status – age, health risk or Indigenous.

Associate Superintendent Scot Gillam reviewed the enhanced safety measures for face-to-face learning for students with special education needs. All staff and students must complete a daily screening confirmation. Families have been offered electronic, written or verbal options to complete the verification. All staff must wear appropriate PPE including masks and shields/goggles. Staff and families also have access to asymptomatic testing in addition to LDSB’s regular schedule.

OPSBA Report

Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) representative Trustee Laurie French shared her OPSBA Report. Board of Directors met last week and included presentation by Education Health Advisor regarding opening education sector and vaccination plans. A finance update included increases to education in federal and provincial budgets. School boards are still awaiting the Grants for Students Needs (GSNs).

There was a legislative update regarding Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, targeted at Municipal councils including a consultation on code of conduct. Program policy updates included the modernization of OSSLT and a discussion paper on online learning (started pre-pandemic).

Four policy resolutions including LDSB's regarding funding for Indigenous Trustee positions in school boards will go to OPSBA AGM in June (see below).

Trustee French also shared that boards have the opportunity to send a letter to the Minister of Education and local MPPs regarding online and remote learning and the expanded mandate of TVO/FTO. Following a brief discussion, the Board agreed to have the Chair send a letter and share the template letter with the Parent Involvement Committee for further discussion/action as it sees fit.

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Report for Information: Student Trustee Elections 2021-2022

Bryan Lambert, Admin Advisor of LDSB Inter-School Council and Student Trustees, shared with Trustees the process for the Student Trustees Elections for the 2021-2022 school year.

Current Student Trustees helped to bring increase participation to student voice and leadership. Thanks to them for their leadership. They hosted drop-in sessions which were well attended to provide information to potential candidates. This was great way to solicit interest and nine students sought positions this year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and similar to elections for 2020-2021 school year, Student Trustee elections were held virtually. Candidates were required to submit a completed application, a written or recorded speech and a written response to platform questions, to present to the incoming and outgoing members of the Inter-School Council. The same application process is used for the Indigenous Student Trustee, however, this student is selected by Indigenous Student representatives from each secondary school at a separate meeting.

The 2021-2022 Student Trustees:

  • Indigenous Student Trustee is Breanna Roy, currently in Grade 11 at Napanee District Secondary School
  • Urban Trustee is Tanesha Duncan, currently in Grade 11 at Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute
  • Rural Trustee is Shana Johnson, currently in Grade 11 at North Addington Education Centre

You can learn more about the new Student Trustees, and their reason for wanting to join the Board of Trustees on the board website.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustee Namirah Quadir extended her heartiest congratulations to Tanesha Duncan from LCVI on being elected the urban student trustee for the upcoming term. As she nears the end of her own team, Trustee Quadir indicated she is ecstatic to see how Student Trustee Duncan will create her legacy as a Limestone District School Board Trustee as the powerful, driven and delightful student and citizen she is.

Trustee Quadir shared that she was deeply proud to represent the Board and Eastern Ontario at the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers' Association’s conference, titled, Embracing Equity; Moving from Words to Action, where she spoke on a panel about student experiences with discrimination and empowerment. She thanked the Board for granting her with the opportunity to connect with students and supervisory staff from across the province on how to take meaningful action in the realm of anti-oppression and equity work.

Student Trustee Putnam congratulated North Addington Education Centre Shana Johnson on her election of Rural Student Trustee for the 2021-2022 school year. She said that she is excited to see where she will take the role.

Inter-School council members recently discussed graduation plans at their schools. It seems like all of our LDSB schools plan to honor this year's graduates in unique and fulfilling ways. Due to the ever-changing circumstances students are aware that graduation plans can change at any given time but are hopeful that they will be able to celebrate their graduation in one form or another.

Student Trustee Traviss congratulated Breanna Roy from Napanee District Secondary School on being elected as Limestone’s second Indigenous Student Trustee. He shared that he has seen her passion for student leadership first hand through the Indigenous Youth Drop-in events.

Trustee Traviss explained that over the past few months, Grade 10 Kingston Secondary School student Julia Kolosov has spearheaded a mentorship program for Indigenous youth from across the school board. He said that seeing these initiatives pop up on their own is the kind of thing that inspires us all to do the work we do, and he is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Julia and all the Indigenous students who have worked to make this happen.

Report for Information: Interim Financial Quarter 2 Report

Superintendent of Business Craig Young and Manager of Financial Services Myra Baumann presented the Interim Financial Quarter 2 Report (September 2020 to February 2021). As at Quarter 2, $125,870,289 of $261,682,447 operating budget or 48% has been spent. This is comparable to the 49% spending level reported for the same period last year. Manager Baumann reported that Board is on target to end the 2020-2021 fiscal year within the budgeted deficit of ($1,054,527).

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Report for Information: Creation of a Black Caucus

Superintendent of Education Michele Babcock provided an update on a November 2020 Board Motion regarding the creation of Black caucus. The motion read: That as part of the continued strategic plan progress aligned within the Wellness Pillar, section 2.2 Equity and Inclusion, the Board requests LDSB staff undertake to engage the Black community in Limestone DSB, be it in consultation or an ongoing caucus to be formed similar to the Indigenous Education Council, to provide input and advice on actions to address racism in our schools, and barriers to equitable experience.

Superintendent Babcock shared that invitations were made to agency and community partners as well as Black parents and citizens who identify as Black to participate in meetings scheduled for late March and early June. Msenwa Mweneake, Equity and Transformation Lead for Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, who identifies as Black, is partnering in co-chairing meetings.

The first virtual meeting had 21 participants and began with introductions followed by breakout room discussions. The discussions focused on guidelines and/or recommendations to help move a community advisory committee forward for supporting the achievement and well-being of Black youth in KFL&A. The group then gathered for a wrap-up to share highlights from their conversations.

A follow-up survey was distributed to participants and responses were positive and respondents expressed appreciation for opportunity to come together with other Black citizens and LDSB to better support Black youth in KFL&A. The survey results and meeting notes are being reviewed and analyzed and will inform the organization and representation for the second meeting in June.

Trustee Brown, who also attended the meeting, shared that she felt participants were able to speak freely. She acknowledged that many from the Black community in attendance recognized their own privilege and that not everyone who should be present was. She said the group has committed to work on adding more diversity among those who identify as Black.

Business Arising: Motion

The following motion was brought forward by Trustee Quadir, sponsored by Trustee Brown and seconded by Trustee Elliott: “That the Limestone District School Board conducts a review of the human rights incident reporting process, including the anonymous reporting process, to ensure a human rights and equity lens. The review includes the tracking and monitoring procedures to ensure accountability and transparency, as well as exploring ways to increase awareness for all board students and staff.” The motion was approved as 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.