Meeting Notes - February 20, 2018

The major agenda item for the board meeting tonight was the following motion from Trustee Tom Kilpatrick:

“That administration explore and make a recommendation regarding the expansion of the IB [International Baccalaureate] program in the elementary panel with one site being considered in each of the county and city schools and special consideration be given to establishing the city site in one of the core schools.”

The renowned IB program is for students that like an academic challenge and want to dig deeper into their education and learning in an inquiry-based and self-directed way. There is an application process and a fee for this program if the student is accepted. IB helps prepare students for post-secondary and often students will receive academic credit in a post-secondary institution. Here is a link with some more information about the program. 

The motion passed unanimously with little debate or concern. Trustees noted the success of the IB program that is currently offered at the secondary levels at Leamington Secondary and Riverside Secondary as well as the need to ensure we are offering programs that will benefit the core schools which were recently the subject of a proposed PARC. Although the PARC did not go forward in 2016, we need to ensure that we are doing what we can to support and attract students to these schools so that it does not come up again. I am looking forward to administration’s report.

I also brought the following Notice of Motion which will come for debate at the March 20 meeting:

“That GECDSB discontinue use of Caboto Club facilities after the 2017/18 school year until such time as said club allows women to enjoy rights as full voting members with opportunity to join the board of directors and when trustees approve of the reinstated use of said facilities.”

I brought this motion in light of the recent attention from Premier Wynne’s decision to move her Town Hall out of Caboto facilities due to their sexist membership policies. Several years ago a woman did try to join the Caboto Club and she was rejected because she was a woman. 

At no time did the Caboto provide a rationale for men-only membership other than this is how it’s been done for over 90 years. Later that year the Women’s Studies Program at the University Windsor publicly announced they would stop using the Caboto Club for this reason. 

Personally, I belong to some committees and groups that had decided at that time not to schedule meetings and events at the Caboto until the policy changed. I am also aware of a few friends and colleagues who decided not to join the Caboto Club due to these policies and who joined different Italian clubs instead.

The attention that Premier Wynne inadvertently brought to the issue again 4 years later spurred me to think about students and teachers in our board - boys and girls, men and women alike. GECDSB prides itself on supporting and providing opportunities for all students and encouraging both girls and boys to be anything they want to be. We know that girls and women face barriers and we provide programming and participate in initiatives such as Build-a-Dream that help address the challenges. Continuing to use Caboto facilities send the message that girls can be anything they want to be with some exceptions including being members of the Caboto Club and that GECDSB is ok with that. In fact, it flies in the face of our values as a board and I think we need to take a stand. I look forward to hearing from you about this motion.

The next meeting is on March 20. I hope that everyone has a fantastic March Break!

Jessica

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Jessica Sartori