Meeting Notes - May 1, 2018

Tonight we had our meetings of the Standing Committees of Education and Operations & Finance.

At the Education Committee we had an update on Health and Physical Education pertaining to daily physical activity and student well-being. In order to meet the daily requirement of 60 minutes of physical activity for elementary students, teachers are embedding physical activity into the regular school day as part of programming. In addition, every elementary school has a physical activity lead to champion this initiative. As well, staff are provided professional development to support them in implementing this requirement and help with developing new ideas.

Research has shown that physical activity is related to better academic outcomes and improvements in well-being. Ontario’s well-being strategy includes Equity and Inclusive Education; Safe and Accepting Schools; Healthy Schools; and Mental Health. GECDSB’s priorities for mental health and addiction include increased awareness of signs of mental illness and where to get help, increased ability of children and youth to cope with stress, and increased staff capacity in intervention.

We also received an update from Special Education Services. GECDSB currently supports 3,044 elementary students with special education needs. The most common areas are for Learning Disabilities (33%) and Multiple Needs (24%) which can include combinations of Learning Disabilities, Autism, Behavioural Needs, Physical Needs, and so on. In addition, we have 2,404 secondary students with special education needs, with the biggest groups being Learning Disabilities (41%) and Multiple Needs (19%). In order to support students with education needs, we have educational support workers including CYWs and ECEs; student services including psychological services and speech and language pathologists; special education itinerant staff; and a behavior management support team. We have been working on targeting literacy for students with special education needs through both Empower and Lexia programming and we are finding clear improvements in literacy in students receiving these programs with marked improvements in many students over just a few months. We continue to monitor outcomes for students with special education needs to ensure we are supporting them appropriately.

At the Operations & Finance meeting, we were pleased to hear that we are still on track to balance the budget this year. As well, we learned that GECDSB has obtained ISO certification which no other board in the province has apparently obtained. Finally, we learned that administration is projecting a slight decrease in enrollment next year. Unfortunately, this is primarily what our budget provision is based on, and we will need to monitor the impact on the budget as enrollment numbers are finalized.

See you at the next board meeting on May 15! Before then, we will be celebrating our staff next week for Staff Appreciation Week. Also, Music Monday is on May 7 at the Capitol Theatre highlighting musical performances from our students.


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Jessica Sartori