Meeting Notes - February 3, 2015

February 3, 2015 was the first meeting of the Standing Committees since the new term began.

The Education Committee had an extensive agenda with Trustee McKinley as Chair and me as Vice Chair. First, Superintendent Clara Howitt announced that February is Black History month and made a presentation describing the year-round initiatives in collaboration with community partners including the Essex County Black Historical Research Society. The Roads to Freedom curriculum documents for the Elementary and Secondary panels which highlight our rich Black history can be found here. Thank you to everyone involved in putting them together. 

Next, there was a reminder that Kindergarten registration runs from February 9-20, and a brief presentation of all the planning and resources that have been prepared including school Open Houses on February 11 and A Day in the Life on March 31. Keep your eyes open for our wrapped trucks highlighting our belief: “All Schools are Good – Our Schools are Great!”

In addition, the Early Development Instrument will be completed by teachers in February/March of this year for all SK students. The EDI is used across the province to measure 5 Domains: Physical Health and Well-Being, Social Competence, Emotional Maturity, Language and Cognitive Development, and Communication Skills and General Knowledge. It is used to help us understand how children in SK are doing in these areas which are important for grade 1 readiness. A presentation will be made to the board at a future meeting to highlight the trends we have been seeing and any planning that needs to occur. Data-driven decision-making at work!

Up next, Superintendent Fister made an impassioned presentation about Skilled Trades initiatives at GECDSB. This work has been occurring for at least 20 years, and over the last 5 years we have seen an increase in student enrollment particularly in manufacturing and transportation. In 2013/14 there were 850 students registered in manufacturing courses! GECDSB has specialized Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs (OYAP)/Specialized High Skills Major (SHSM) programs in 10 of our 16 high schools. There will be 90 OYAP apprentices registered in manufacturing this school year alone. Currently, GECDSB offers SHSM in 12 sectors and we are looking at adding two more for the 2015/16 year. The skilled trades programming that is offered is based on industry and community need and we were very fortunate to have REKO come forward to partner with us. Many of the students that register in these programs begin earning an income even before they are finished school! Importantly, there are many initiatives to encourage girls to consider skilled trades. Community partnerships are crucial as the equipment is very expensive and it gives students an opportunity to test-drive these sectors with hands-on experience. Thank you to the Windsor Star for highlighting these great programs. As Superintendent Fister said, “We are open for business!”

Next, the Operations and Finance Committee heard from Superintendent Lynd on the budget process. More information will be presented a future public meeting with final budget approval by the end of the school year.

Finally, I know the PARC is on everyone’s mind. In order to help ensure as much clarity as possible, during the public session I asked about a recent comment from one of the communities that the calculation of student spaces includes closet space and storage rooms. Superintendent Awender assured that these were not counted and that more information about the calculations will be coming forward soon.

The next board meeting is on February 17. In the interim I will be continuing to visit more of the schools in my wards. Hope to see you there!


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Jessica Sartori