Boardroom Briefs

May 20, 2020 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.

Please note the May 20, 2020 meeting was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 extended school closure.

Private Session Update

Trustee Laurie French provided a public report of topics discussed in private sessions ahead of recent meetings. Trustee French shared that there are several motions arising from private sessions prior to April 29 Board, May 4 Audit and May 6 Director Selection Committee that include: Selection of the Director: Stakeholder Consultation Summary be received for information; Director Candidate Profile be approved; Director Candidate Posting be approved; Board meet on June 3, 2020 to work on interview questions and candidate presentations; Board meet on June 10, 2020 to conduct a candidate pool review and shortlisting; Board tentatively book the following dates for interviewing candidates: June 27, 2020 and June 28, 2020.

Chair Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.

It was announced on May 19, 2020 that schools will not re-open for the remainder of 2019-2020 school year based on the advice of provincial and local public health officials. We appreciate the government taking a cautious approach to return to in-class instruction to keep well-being and safety of students, staff, and school communities as its priority.

LDSB recently held its annual Student Trustee elections which included the addition of a third position to represent students with Indigenous ancestry beginning next year. The Indigenous Student Trustee was selected by secondary students who self-identify as First Nations, Metis, or Inuit. The Chair indicated that this was a momentous occasion for Board to recognize Indigenous and enhanced student voice at the Board table. She congratulated incoming Student Trustees Quanah Traviss (LCVI), Limestone’s first Indigenous Student Trustee, Urban Trustee Namirah Quadir (KCVI/KSS) and re-elected Rural Trustee Annika Putnam (SHS).

Although formal presentations to outgoing Student Trustees typically occur in June, Chair Ruttan acknowledged current Student Trustees Jessica Crook and Annika Putnam for their leadership during very challenging year.

Chair Ruttan shared that school boards have not received the next set of financial documents, or Grants for Student Needs, from the government for the 2020-2021 school year budget. The Budget Meeting schedule has been adjusted to reflect this delay.

Finally, the Chair thanked Limestone staff who continue to pivot and provide support where and when it is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic and extended school closure. She extended her gratitude to staff, students and families for their flexibility, patience and understanding as we support continuity of learning.

Director's Report

Director of Education Debra Rantz provided the following report.

Although the recent provincial announcement to keep schools closed is not what many of you might have hoped for, we support all decisions that help ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of our students and staff. It is important to note that school is not cancelled – in-school teaching and learning is suspended. Learning opportunities will continue within our emergency remote learning plan. We will do our best to provide answers as quickly as possible.

Even during these incredibly stressful times, staff continue to be focused in their pursuit of ensuring students reach their full potential, moving on to the next grade or graduating from high school. Professional development continues with staff accessing various regional virtual conferences, self-directed learning, and social media chats deepening their knowledge and practice. There are tireless efforts to provide students with the best supports they can. Facilities, central, clerical and support staff continue to adjust to the ever-changing landscape of their work, and school administrators continue to provide balanced leadership.

LDSB is now part of recently established KFL&A Social Recovery Task Force which will work in tandem with Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force to seek out opportunities for stabilization, collaboration and coordination among agencies in the social service sector. We are proud to be included as part of this important collaboration to ensure everyone’s wellness and safety going forward. Our work on this task force supplements our existing collaborations on the Mayor’s Community Check-In Table and the Vulnerable Sector Table.

OPSBA Report

Trustee Laurie French provided a brief update from the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. The OPSBA President recently released new statement re extended closure in which she confirmed that the Grants for Students Needs (GSNs) are delayed. OPSBA continues to emphasize importance of releasing GSNs during communications with government.

Another regulation change is being worked on to address the new reality of online meetings during the pandemic situation. The OPSBA Board of Directors virtual meeting is coming up and Minister Lecce is scheduled to attend.

Student Trustee Report

Student Trustees Jessica Crook and Annika Putnam provided the following report: Trustees also acknowledge new Student Trustees for 2020-2021 school year, and thank Chair Ruttan for her earlier kind words. Trustees thank all members of InterSchool Council and staff advisor, Mr. Lambert, as well as all of the students who submitted applications for student trustee positions for their patience and time when completing new adapted virtual election process. The new student trustees will be formally introduced at the June Board Meeting.

Report for Information: Kingston Secondary School

Superintendent of Business Craig Young provided brief update on Kingston Secondary School.

The Board will be reassigning the remainder of the Kingston Secondary School contract to Corebuild Construction Ltd. Corebuild accepts all rights, liabilities and obligations under the original contract for the project. The project managers, site supervisors and sub-contractors remain the same providing continuity for the project which is nearing completion. The KSS project is bonded and insured in its entirety. The reassignment is a result of the previous general contractor, Bondfield, winding down its current business operations.

Superintendent of Education Krishna Burra indicated that due to the ongoing construction of KSS, students will continue to be accommodated at KCVI in September 2020. Once construction is complete, students will move over as a group. A new construction timeline will be provided in the coming weeks.

Reports for Information: Board response to COVID-19

Director Rantz provided a report on LDSB’s COVID-19 response to date. She indicated that government ministries have released several memos over the past few weeks and LDSB has been working to unpack the details to determine the effect on individual school boards.

The board is awaiting more information on May 19, 2020 announcement regarding the suspension of all in-class learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and what particulars are for new summer learning and September 2020 plans.

Senior staff provided some updates that have occurred between the writing of the report and the Board meeting.

Emergency Remote Learning Survey:

Superintendent of Education Michele Babcock shared that all staff, families, and students in Grades 4 to 12 were invited to participate in an anonymous and voluntary online survey which was open from May 8 to 14, 2020. The goal of the survey, was to understand how our school communities are progressing with learning or working in a remote environment.

More than 7,600 people participated – 2,169 students, 4,110 families and 1,323 staff. Of the students that responded, 37 per cent are elementary students and 63 per cent are secondary. Family participation was almost reversed with 77 per cent having children in the elementary panel and 23 per cent having secondary students. Of the staff who responded, 34 per cent are educators and 24 per cent are non-educators, such as support staff.

Read more about the preliminary findings on the Board website.

Big picture

Educational Services Support:

Associate Superintendent Alison McDonnell provided an update on Educational Services model during COVID-19. Staff have redefined service delivery models and roles and responsibilities to ensure students with special education needs get supports & services remotely that they require. The Special Education Advisory Committee recently shared that many families are struggling to meet learning needs of their children at home. The board has established a multi-disciplinary subcommittee at Educational Services to investigate how to provide more targeted supports and interventions going forward. Teams are also creating resources for parents including supports from Hard of Hearing Teachers and After School Skills Development Program. These will be accessible to all families to support learning at home.

Pandemic protocols:

Associate Superintendent Scot Gillam spoke to the board's partnership with KFL&A Public Health including various protocols now in development regarding the retrieval of personal items (students and teachers). The board is also looking at self-assessment, active screening etc. and how that relates to discussions about what a return to work and school might mean especially in context of a second wave.


Superintendent of Education Jessica Silver provided an overview of discussions around graduations for Grade 8 and 12. Due to current public health directives, the board cannot recognize graduates in June with traditional in-person ceremonies. Committees at both elementary and secondary levels have been struck to discuss how we can celebrate these milestone achievements for students. There are lots of suggestions and the committees are sorting through what is and isn't possible. The board will continue to work closely with school staff, with direction and guidance from the health unit, and more details will be shared when that information is available.

Device deployment:

Superintendent of Education Krishna Burra provided an update on the distribution of devices to students. So far, 2,200 devices have been provided to students and staff to support learning and working from home. Students will hold devices (unless they are graduating in June) due to possible summer learning and uncertainty of future learning come September. From the remote learning survey, over 90% of students reported they are able to use online platforms/tools; and over 90% of staff identified some comfort with teaching remotely.

Election of OPSBA Representatives

Trustees voted to determine which Trustee would represent LDSB on the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. Two positions are being voted on - the representative and an alternate.

Trustee Laurie French and Trustee Robin Hutcheon were nominated for representative. Following a secret ballot vote, Trustee French was elected as the representative.

Trustee Robin Hutcheon, Trustee Karen McGregor and Trustee Tom Gingrich were nominated for the alternate position. Trustee McGregor relinquished her nomination. After a secret ballot, Trustee Gingrich was selected as the alternate member.

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.