Meeting Notes - May 19, 2015

We began the evening tonight by celebrating our 2015 Champions for Education, individuals and organizations in the community that go above and beyond in supporting GECDSB students through donations of their time or gifts of money. 

It’s caring people like these that move school days from good to great and demonstrate to students the importance of volunteerism and community engagement. Congratulations and thank you to our eight award winners!

We also celebrated our May Student of the Month, Jack Turner, a grade 10 student known for his “kindness, enthusiasm, and contagious school spirit”. This year, he personally paid for several students to attend Hoops for Heart, a fundraiser promoting healthy hearts and active living. Jack is involved in many extra-curricular activities and is one of Student Council’s greatest supporters. He successfully campaigned to be Co-Chair of Advertising for the next school year. Keep it up, Jack!

The key item on the agenda was the Riverside Boundary Review Recommendations. All 4 recommendations received unanimous support from trustees. Thank you to the principals, parents, community members, and administration for your hard work in making sense of all the data, developing and vetting various scenarios, and coming up with a set of recommendations that are intended to result in minimal disruption to families and teachers. For the details of the process and public input see this link. Essentially, the approved recommendations are:

  1. That effective, September 1, 2015, boundaries are adjusted for Hetherington, Princess Elizabeth, and Suzuki Public Schools. View new boundary map here.
  2. Only students currently attending Suzuki, Hetherington, and Princess Elizabeth as of the 2014/15 school year, who reside in the new boundaries, will be granted a limited exception, without transportation, to remain at the respective school until the completion of grade 8. All new students including future siblings of current students, registering for September 2015 and beyond, will follow the new boundaries.
  3. Based upon authenticated home address: all students newly registered for September 2015 who reside in an area to be transitioned to a new location shall be provided a letter from the principal advising of the change.
  4. That the principals of the schools, in consultation with their school councils, work with senior administration to implement and communicate the changes.

I supported these recommendations. The committee undertook a principled process including:

  • Alleviate [over]capacity issues at Suzuki
  • Improve utilization rates within the three schools
  • Minimize disruption
  • Create logical geographical areas [currently there is boundary cross-over between schools]
  • Consider physical dividers (major arteries, tracks, etc.)
  • Consider fiscal responsibility with portable use
  • Consider fiscal responsibility with transportation
  • Develop a long-term sustainable solution

It was important to me that families experience minimal disruption and that students be allowed to complete their education at their current school if at all possible. Utilization rates were also at the top of my mind; given that we are in the midst of a PARC involving several county schools, I wanted assurance that the recommendations would not foreseeably create new utilization issues. I was also looking for safety considerations, fiscal responsibility, and solutions that were focused on sustainability in the long-term as opposed to band-aids. I found these recommendations satisfactory.

Finally, it was interesting to me to learn that in other boards, Administration can make these decisions without trustees and without community input. Although we do not have a policy, it is our practice to model the process similar to a PARC to ensure appropriate governance and stewardship by trustees as well as opportunities for community input. I think the board shows exemplary leadership in taking this approach.

Our next meeting is on June 2 for the Education and Operations and Finance Committees. At the Education Committee, we will discuss the framework for the Math Task Force and receive the PARC Committee’s final three strategies. Please note this is not the last discussion of the PARC and the final stages will involve a recommendation from Administration that the trustees will vote on this fall.

Jessica

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Jessica Sartori