Meeting Notes - September 20, 2016

Tonight was the first meeting of the GECDSB for the 2016-17 school year. A motion to consider the benefits and challenges of maintaining Kennedy pool was discussed and we reviewed several by-laws including how often we will receive presentations from community members.

We were welcomed back with four members of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra playing the national anthem. There were also several announcements including our new Superintendent of Education, Dina Salinitri, and this year’s student trustees, Colton Allen and Elisa Quaggiotto. We are looking forward to working with them! Trustees Cheryl Lovell and Kim McKinley both received service recognition pins for their time serving as trustees. Congratulations to both of them!

We celebrated the September Student of the Month, Tasnia Nabil, of Vincent Massey Secondary School. She was introduced as “not your average student of the month” and you may recognize her name from a Windsor Star article last year describing her cancer research. From the article, “The therapy… aims to use ferromagnetic nanoparticles, magnetite, to destroy cancerous tumours without the negative health effects. It works by injecting the particles into the tumour. Then an alternating magnetic field causes the particles to vibrate, creating heat.” She is a dedicated student and talented researcher who travels to London bi-weekly to conduct research and testing. I have had the pleasure of presenting awards to her the last two years at the Windsor Regional Science Technology and Engineering Fair. Congratulations, Tasnia! 

Maestro Robert Franz of WSO took us through an overview of the programming offered by WSO and the ways in which classical music helps children learn. WSO offers programming to students in Kindergarten through grade 12 and last year, 6000 students across 23 schools visited WSO. He is hoping to increase the turnout this year. He described music as having an essential role in children’s learning and that classical music has unique qualities for teaching and learning. He noted that research shows when children are taught how to listen to and think about classical music, their learning outcomes improve. The key is to teach them how to look for patterns and notice changes. He then took trustees through a short exercise while the musicians played Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

One of the big items on the agenda tonight was the motion from Trustee Alan Halberstadt that administration report back on the pros and cons of maintaining the pool at Kennedy Collegiate:

That administration report to the board on the costs and savings, pros and cons, over the next five years of closing the Kennedy Collegiate pool and include the cost of filling in the pool.

I supported Trustee Halberstadt’s motion. While I believe that we need to provide unique and appealing offerings to students in the way of programming and amenities, we have a $3.75 million deficit, and I want to consider mitigation initiatives other than closing neighbourhood schools - which has been the only major cost mitigation initiative proposed to date and I don’t think this should be our go-to solution. We are also told that utilization is low, but have not seen numbers. I asked that utilization stats be included in the report. The motion passed and I will report back on the outcomes.

We also considered several recommendations from the Ad Hoc By-Law Committee including a recommendation to maintain article 6:70 as is:

The Chair may decline to place a delegation or speaker on the agenda if they have addressed the Board on the same matter within the previous five months or the subject is not within the jurisdiction of the Board. However a written submission may be accepted and distributed to Trustees.

I spoke against the committee's recommendation to maintain the by-law as is and asked trustees to consider the message we are sending to the public when we limit the frequency with which they can come and speak to the board. The point was also made by Trustee Kilpatrick that this should not be a decision made solely by the Chair. Although it seems that requests to speak repeatedly on the same issue do not come up often, it does happen during PARCs. Often these are groups of community people who can share the job of making the actual presentation. However, it was also noted that many of these people spend a great deal of time and energy researching and preparing and it is not as simple as just sending the information to trustees or asking someone else to present for them. The motion was amended that the Board will make these decisions and that PARCs will be an exception to the rule. I would have liked to have seen no limits at all, but this is a step in the right direction.

The next public meeting is on October 4. Hope to see you there!


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Jessica Sartori