Boardroom Briefs

October 27, 2021 Regular Meeting of the Board

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.

Each meeting, a different Trustee will present the Indigenous Acknowledgement of Territory and include their own personal reflections.

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Private Session Report

Vice Chair Tom Gingrich indicated Minutes from previous meetings were approved, a personnel update was provided, and Trustee French presented an OPSBA update. There was no other business conducted, or motions passed.

Chair's Report

Chair Suzanne Ruttan provided the following report.

Local Government Week has just wrapped up. This is an opportunity to raise civic awareness about the important role Trustees play as advocates for public education. One of the cornerstones of our responsibilities is the creation of the board’s multi-year strategic plan for student achievement and well-being. Trustees fulfill this mandate in a number of ways, by developing effective partnerships at the local, provincial and national level.

It is fitting to also congratulate Trustee Laurie French on her re-election to serve as President of the Canadian School Boards’ Association for a fourth term. The work of CSBA is important advocacy work on behalf of all publicly funded school boards.

Next month is Indigenous Education Month. Students, staff and community members will recognize a number of important days to deepen our knowledge and build stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

A reminder the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association is undertaking a survey to gather first-hand accounts of remote learning during the pandemic. The survey will take about 10 minutes and closes November 30.

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Student Trustee Report

The Student Trustee Report was presented by Trustees Duncan, Johnson and Roy.

Student Trustee Roy began, stating that the first InterSchool Council Meeting had a presentation on highlights of the Student Census. Trustee Duncan reviewed Limestone's new reporting tool brought to Trustees' attention at the last Board meeting. She said school spirit is back in hallways, along with food drives underway in most secondary schools. All InterSchool Council members agreed they were interested in doing fundraisers at their individual schools for International Water Day.

Trustee Duncan outlined her school's school safe climate proposal and BIPOC safe spaces project.

Trustee Johnson stated that there will be a discussion on Youth Homelessness at the next InterSchool Council meeting and the United Way of KFL&A will be presenting on this topic.

Director's Report

Director of Education Krishna Burra provided the following report.

Eight weeks into the 2021-2022 school year and students and staff continue to demonstrate impressive resilience, adaptability, and kindness as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Work on the renaming process for École Kingston East Elementary School has begun. A Renaming Committee will include representation from students, families, staff and community members with a particular emphasis on ensuring the membership includes Indigenous peoples and voices. The committee will oversee the consultation with the school community which will follow a process like that used in previous school naming processes but with an emphasis on how and why the former name was harmful, and what name attributes would respect and honour the Indigenous experience. The board’s Indigenous Education Team will support a significant and age-appropriate education component for students during November which is also Indigenous education Month in Limestone. Families and community members will also be provided with an education component to support their understanding of the renaming process. The current plan is to bring a short list of names to the Board of Trustees for consideration in February 2022.

On September 30, the board honoured the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day to commemorate the residential school experience and honour the healing journey of survivors and their families. Many schools participated in learning and events that encourage us to learn more about the true history of residential schools and create meaningful discussions about the effects of these schools and the legacy they left behind.

Recently, the Limestone Learning Foundation provided a $60,000 grant to the LDSB to supply all Grade 4 to 6 classes with contemporary book sets to further support Indigenous Education, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. Books are Back, features 25 curated titles at appropriate reading levels that would otherwise not be provided by government funding. A big thank you to the Limestone Learning Foundation for this very generous and positive contribution to learning in Limestone schools.

This fall, extracurricular activities returned in schools. At secondary, over 1,300 students are currently participating on sports teams. This includes over 60 teams and over 170 games so far.

With the return of sports, we have also seen significant interest from students and families to have spectators at outdoor and indoor activities. The ongoing pandemic and regulations governing requirements that must be in place and enforced have prevented the board from having spectators. Many schools are streaming these activities, and work contiues on a plan that will allow the return of some spectators, and ensure we are compliant with provincial requirements for hosting such events.

The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on teaching, learning and day-to-day operations. While provincial COVID rates and case counts have been trending downward, public health has declared two school outbreaks in Limestone schools this week. This is a stark reminder that children under age 12 are particularly vulnerable and COVID remains a concern especially among the unvaccinated. It is important to note that public health has indicated that its investigations of school cases reveal that transmission is occurring outside of the school environment through unstructured play dates and other out-of-school activities. Public health is ramping up its community messages to help prevent the spread among unvaccinated individuals, particularly school-aged children.

By and large, students appreciate being back in school and learning with their peers. Educators continue to persevere and focus on learning while being mindful of pandemic requirements.

OPSBA Report

Trustee French provide a finance update and presented an overview on the results of the equity, diversity and inclusion audit and how to embed it in every day work. Recommendations include the introduction of a Black Caucus at the OPSBA level. (Limestone has begun this work already.}

The Program/Policy Worktable discussion on the introduction for a new Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) for Non-profit in Education is in development with the Ministry of Education.

Presentation - Summer Learning

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Superintendent Gillam introduced Literacy Consultant Erica Wyncoll, and educators Bond Strand, and Dale Bennett, who provided an overview of Summer Programming with an emphasis on Indigenous Education.

The Read-A-Lot program was a virtual session this summer with 180 students attending. A new Grade 7/8 math session was introduced to support students' transition to Grade 9 destreamed math. This programming also included sessions for families. Staff continued to Indigenize Read-A-Lot​ building on last year's success, with Knowledge Keepers providing sessions with students and families​.

Summer learning was developed for students who attend Kataworki Leanring Centre. Students from the Aazhogan~ Ahskó:kon program including six tutors from The River Program, two teachers and one assistant from the Métis Nation of Ontario participated in a 15-day program over five weeks. Funding for the program came from the Council of Directors of Education.

The goal of the program was to identify camper reading and writing needs and increase their capacity in an identified area to improve reading and/or writing among self-identified Indigenous students from the Aazhogan~Ahskó:kon (Bridge) Program. Students visited Anishinaabe and Kanien’kéha Knowledge Keepers who incorporated storytelling as a springboard to create interest in reading and writing.​ Outdoor and experiential education methods were utilized to further the desire to increase reading and writing skills.​ Every day students smudged, had story time (oral language), built stories using a talking stick (pre-planning)​, wrote and revised stories (writing process)​, practiced reading and writing, read with tutors from the River Program​, and practiced games with tutors that supported phonemic awareness.

Very positive feedback was received by both students and their families. There was an increase in literacy skills with regards to reading comprehension, exploration of career paths​, and the deepening of new personal connections.

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Report Requiring Action: Short-term Borrowing Resolutions

Superintendent of Business Services Young explained the board requires Trustees' approval to recommend short-term borrowing resolutions for the 2021-2022 year to meet cash flow requirements.

In June 2021, the Board approved the borrowing of funds to cover operating cash requirements to a maximum of $20M and borrowing of interim capital financing to support COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream Educated related Projects.

A new motion is now required to maintain short-term bridge financing to support projects until funds are provided by the government.

Trustees approved the following Notice of Motion: That the Board authorizes interim capital financing with RBC of up to $20,000,000 to support capital projects planned or underway for School Condition Improvements.

Report for Information: Financial Update on COVID-19 Expenses

Superintendent Young provided Trustees with a financial update on the COVID-19 funding from the Ministry of Education and the expected COVID-19 expenditures for 2021-2022.

The Ministry announced funding totaling $5,150,052 for LDSB, along with direction that school boards should only budget for half of the funding to cover expenses for half of the school year to include remote learning, adopt secondary timetabling that emphasize cohorting, health and safety measures and several curriculum priorities.

Announcing a release of only half of the total funding has created operational challenges for LDSB. The implementation of all the funded student supports for only half of the school year may create gaps for students. As a result, where possible, LDSB has planned for a reduced level of support in order for the supports to span the length of the entire school year.

The Ministry has advised that they will confirm the use of the second half of the funding if

needed, in the fall of 2021 pending vaccine distribution across the province and public

health advice.

Superintendent Young presented a budgetary template of the announced COVID-19 funding

revenues and the expected expenses that will be incurred in the current school year to

meet the directives of the Ministry of Education. These expenses will address the COVID-19

pandemic responses, as well as meet the expectations of our various collective agreements.

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Report for Information: School Climate Survey

Associate Superintendent Gollogly explained school boards are required to conduct surveys at least once every two years to gather data that supports creating a positive school climate. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, included, and accepted, and actively promote positive behaviours and interactions.

The survey will be available to students in Grades 4-12 this November. The goal of

this anonymous survey is to collect student voice regarding their perspectives on the school climate in their school. School-based data will provide site-specific perceptions on safety and bullying, pathways and transitions, achievement and learning, human rights, equity, mental health and an overall sense of belonging.

The survey will be open from November 15-30. Families and students will receive information about the school climate survey during the first week of November. Information will enable schools to create, responsive, site-specific, equity actions to cultivate a more equitable and inclusive school climate.

Report for Information: Employee Vaccination Attestation

Superintendent of Human Resources McWilliams explained that following the September update to Trustees, 95% of eligible employees have now attested their COVID-19 vaccination status: 91% are fully vaccinated, 4% are unvaccinated and 5% have not attested.

Staff who have not completed attestation and/or who have not engaged in regular rapid antigen testing have been advised that failure to adhere to these requirements may result in their being placed on leave without pay.

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Report for Information: Strategic Plan - End of Year Report 2021-2022

Director Burra and senior staff presented an end-of-school-year Strategic Action Plan – 2020-2021, (page 47 of the Agenda Package) focusing on the items that have been assessed as ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ on the action plans. Given the disruptions present during the 2020-2021 school year, more ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ indicators are evident. Consequently, senior staff will focus on those areas where this work has been resumed in the 2021-2022 school year, or areas we were unable to focus attention during the spring of 2021.

Senior staff reviewed the Strategic Action Plan Evaluation Framework: 2017-2022 (page 86 of the Agenda Package) employing the same traffic light system. Each outcome will be assessed as to its status, three years into a five-year plan. The Evaluation Framework has been included to assist the Board in tracking progress of goals. Multiple data sets and evidence are used to evaluate the progress toward the desired outcomes. Staff’s commitment to Trustees is that the areas of focus will also populate Board and Education and Policy Operations Committee (EPOC) agendas throughout the five-year Strategic Plan.

The Director concluded the report with an overview of the Strategic Action Plan: 2021-2021 (page 92 in the Agenda Package) addressing goals and area of focus under the three pillars of wellness, innovation and collaboration.

Notices of Motion

A Notice of Motion was brought forward by Trustee Hutcheon:

"That LDSB staff be permitted to purchase their own masks if they choose, provided those masks are better than level 2/surgical masks and are Health Canada approved; and the director ensures this measure is operationally workable in its implementation."

This motion will be debated at the next Regular Meeting of the Board, November 24, 2021.

For Meeting Agendas and Minutes, please visit the board's website.

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.