Meeting Notes - January 16, 2018

Happy New Year! A great start to 2018 with a presentation from the student trustees about the recent Student Platform for this year's provincial election.

The Student Platform is a policy package developed by the Ontario Student Trustees Association and intended to be used for advocacy purposes in the upcoming provincial election. The three pillars identified across the province are:

  • Student Well-Being,
  • 21st Century Learning, and
  • Equitable Access to Opportunities.

Among the 16 recommendations, OSTA-AECO is advocating for staff and student training in suicide prevention; the creation of well-being clubs; breakfast programs; additional testing for exceptionalities and the right to appropriate accommodations; increasing the complement of guidance counsellors; expanding the current curriculum to include technological literacy; and expanding the Urban and Priority High Schools program. The report indicates that 8,230 students from 62 school boards participated in the survey to identify priorities for the platform. It is an impressive piece of work and I proposed that trustees send a letter to the Minister of Education applauding OSTA-AECO and asking that this powerful platform of student voice be given serious consideration. My proposal was supported by consensus. As Chair of the Education Committee, I will be ensuring that we highlight student voice at GECDSB throughout the year and provide information to trustees about how we are supporting the platform currently and potential areas of consideration.  

The other big item on the agenda was administration's report on important considerations for earlier school start times in GECDSB secondary schools. While research shows that later start times can positively impact student well-being and learning, most research suggests that students should not start school before 8am. Moreover, administration reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school not start earlier than 8:30. In an earlier blog post, I noted that most of our schools start after 8:15am. Administration also noted research which found that for every 10 minutes of later school start time, students only get 3.2 minutes of extra sleep. The fact of the matter is, GECDSB secondary students already start school later than most of the research showing the negative effects of early school start times. In addition, we are already working on a program to ensure kids get an adequate amount of sleep. The amount of re-organization required for students to start school 10 or 20 minutes later outweighs the positive that could be achieved which appears to be minimal according to the research provided by administration and the research that I did on my own. 

No motion to proceed with a pilot program of later start times was suggested and at this time I would not support such a motion without research showing positive outcomes with 3 minutes of extra sleep. Moreover, we heard from the student trustees who had concerns about extra curricular activities and after school jobs if a school were to start a great deal later. This is an important consideration.

The Education Committee meets on Tuesday, February 6 and we will be receiving an update on Indigenous Education as well as an Operational Update from Superintendent Dr. Sharon Pyke. All are welcome!


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Jessica Sartori