Meeting Notes - January 20, 2015

After a relaxing holiday we were back in the board room last night. The meeting was on the shorter side but productive.


Student Trustee Nicole Fletcher introduced the Student of the Month who is chosen by the Student Senate. Cassidy Prior is a high school student who devotes herself to mentorship, volunteering, and academic study. Cassidy has managed to excel in her academic studies while providing homework help and other assistance to her peers, holding three part-time jobs, and accumulating over 450 hours of volunteer service. Keep up the great work, Cassidy!  

The trustees approved the PARC Committee which will involve the principals and another staff member from all affected schools, as well as parents and community members. The first meeting is next Thursday, January 29 at 6:30pm in the gym at General Amherst. Thank you to all who volunteered your time to represent your school communities.

We also discussed letters we received from the offices of two municipalities involved in the PARC requesting that GECDSB meet with them to open a dialogue. A third municipality is also involved in the PARC and although we did not receive a letter from them at the time of the meeting, I requested that Administration get in touch with all three communities to set up meetings - with trustee representation. I strongly believe schools are community pillars and that PARCs should involve the relevant city or municipal representatives as much as possible. I was very pleased that my request will be honoured.

Director Erin Kelly also provided a web-based presentation of the Director’s Annual Report. There is a wealth of information here and I encourage you to take a look. It’s very stylish and interactive.

Finally, I asked for a summary of the preparation that goes into getting ready for the EQAO. I think we need to keep our eyes on the grade 6 math scores in particular. Although my research training helps me understand this standardized test to some extent, I am still learning about it. My daughter recently took the grade 9 math assessment and I thought this would be a good time to ask.

Superintendent Clara Howitt provided a good summary and I was very happy to hear that post-test feedback from teachers and students is obtained in order to strengthen the preparation for the next round. Much of the preparation is actually year-round in order to maintain a continuous focus on math, not just at EQAO time. This made sense to me because the EQAO is intended to measure student proficiency around the curriculum. In addition, meetings are held with principals to develop strategies to use the information from the EQAO results for continuous improvement and planning. And teachers use the EQAO to identify areas requiring support in individual students. Finally, students may be provided sample questions so they can understand the format and practice their skills ahead of time. I was delighted to be invited to observe the Math PD sessions coming up this spring. And I look forward to the results in the fall at which time Dr. Howitt will give a full report.

The next Board meeting is on February 3 and I will be Vice Chair for parts of the meeting as the Education Committee is on the agenda. Before then, I’ll be attending the Grand Opening of West Gate Public School on January 22. I will also be attending the Public Education Symposium  next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I will try to update you via twitter throughout the conference and I’ll write about it when I get back.


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Jessica Sartori