Meeting Notes - February 21, 2017

Superintendents Howitt and Pyke presented their operational plans. Operational Plans are annual updates of their respective portfolios.

Congratulations to our February Student of the Month, Grace Sabutsch, a grade 11 student at Belle River High School. Grace was chosen for this award because she is an honour student and known as a role model among her peers. In addition, she is an accomplished writer, recently winning a competition held by OSSTF. Way to go, Grace!

Superintendent John Howitt presented his Operational Plan focusing on board and school technology. We received an update on our recent implementation of Edsby, an “innovative cloud-based platform for K-12 that incorporates learning management, data consolidation and real-time analytics.” It facilitates “student, teacher, and parent engagement, improved educational outcomes and new insight into educational effectiveness.” (

It can be used by teachers, parents, students, and administrators. Edsby includes calendars, messaging functionality, a mechanism for students to submit assignments, and grade posting. It is hoped that this tool will facilitate greater communication among the many groups of people at GECDSB. At some point, it will be rolled out to trustees and I believe the public will be able to contact us through Edsby as well, as long as you are in the GECDSB community and you have a user ID and password. I am in favour of anything we can do to facilitate communication with trustees. By mid-March we should have 24 schools inviting parents to use Edsby and we will continue the implementation until all schools have it. This implementation has happened very quickly with a lot of work and planning by board staff. I look forward to hearing more about Edsby including feedback from parents, students, and teachers so we can “tweak” it as needed.

Superintendent Sharon Pyke also shared her Operational Plan including a report on our Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL) program. In extreme situations, SAL (Ontario Reg. 374/10) allows secondary school students access to an alternative learning program instead of regular classroom learning. In the 2015/16 school year, we had over 200 students participating in each semester. SAL is a last resort which provides another type of support for struggling students in the continuum of our student success and well-being programming. Students in this program are suffering life circumstances including personal and family problems that are impacting their classroom learning. Every student has an individual plan which could include enrolment in core or life skills courses, counselling, job training, and work or volunteer experience. I think this program is important because we know that graduating high school is crucial for long-term health and success. Last year, students received credit for 34 courses. In addition, 286 students were enrolled in full-time work and 14 received job training or certificates. This is a critical program and we are looking toward continuous improvement through a review of other Board’s implementation plans and feedback from stakeholders.

Our next meeting is on March 21. I am looking forward to all of the activities surrounding our Kindergarten registration which started today, including tomorrow’s Open Houses in every elementary school. I am also looking forward to the Give Your Heart to Autism Gala on February 25. Enjoy your March Break, everyone!


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Jessica Sartori