Meeting Notes - December 8, 2015

The first meeting with our new Chair, Connie Buckler, and Vice Chair, Ron LeClair was tonight.

Our December Student of the Month is Karissa Melnyk, a grade 12 student at Leamington District Secondary School. Karissa was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. She fought a difficult battle and is now cancer free and a vocal advocate for cancer awareness. Karissa is known as a kind, non-judgemental person who is friendly to everyone. She makes excellent grades and is a great role model for other students. Congratulations, Karissa!

We had a speaker tonight, Beth Ann Cook, our Indigenous Community liaison and new Chair of the Indigenous Parent Committee, who told us the community is very excited because the new federal Liberal government is lifting the 2% cap on funding for First Nations education programs and conducting an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous and Aboriginal women and girls. Here is a link to some information about these things. She said they are pleased at the efforts in our board and thanked the board for their help and support over the last year. 

We received a presentation from Robert Di Maio of Archon Architects Incorporated about phase 2 of the renovations to the McCallum/Herman JK-12 school which are underway at the Herman site, as well as phase 3 which is to begin in March 2016. He explained in detail what it took to “bring it from a secondary school to a JK-12 school” including separate entrances for elementary and secondary students, a kiss and ride, additional classrooms, and separate elementary and secondary gyms and change rooms. Templates will be shared on grade 8 night at the school and handouts will be available when Kindergarten registration starts. Please let me know if you have any questions.

I asked what the board is doing to prepare to welcome Syrian refugees as we are expecting potentially hundreds beginning in December and continuing into 2016. Individual schools are starting to prepare; Brock students decorated the Mackenzie Hall tree with decorations that said "Welcome to Windsor", and Begley principal Mark Rinaldi-Ross was on the radio describing year-round efforts to welcome students at his school including academic and social social supports. Trustees were told that Superintendent Sharon Pyke is, in fact, the education liaison for the city's initiative to welcome refugees. In addition, we have a Newcomer Settlement Centre on Ouellette Avenue that works year-round to welcome immigrant families including refugees. This program works with New Canadians Centre of Excellence to provide language and settlement support as well as connect families to other agencies such as mental health and medical. As a result, a press meeting was held on to tell the whole community about everything we are doing to prepare. Here is a report from the Windsor Star.

Finally, I asked for more information about the Industry-Education Task Force created to address the skills gap we have locally. Recently, there was a panel of IETF members at the St. Clair College open house which Trustee McKinley and I attended. This student success initiative is led by Superintendent Dan Fister and involves local HR directors. A presentation with more information will be brought to the board in the new year.

This was our final meeting of the year. Our grade 8 nights at our secondary schools have started and will continue into January. Here is a link to the schedule. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday and an incredible start to 2016. I can’t wait to see what we can do!


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Jessica Sartori