Monday, June 21, 2021
Board Highlights for June meeting
The following are the highlights of the Near North District School Board (NNDSB) meeting of Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
Board meetings will open with words from Elder
To improve the work the board does in honouring the Truth the Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, it was announced that NNDSB’s Board of Trustee meetings will include an opening prayer by an Elder.
Tuesday night’s meeting opened with a prayer in Anishinaabemowin from Elder June Commanda of Nipissing First Nation. In her translation, she said she thanked Creator for today, this life, and everything Mother Earth provides us with – water, plants, food and medicines. She thanked Creator for the gift of life and helping us to be brave and strong-hearted.
Trustee Nichole King, the Board’s First Nations representative, read a poem she wrote called Our Children as the Board paid tribute to the children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Coaching supports students with different needs
At the request of the SEAC Committee, Trustees heard a presentation from Rick Cunningham of LEARNstyle about the work that company is doing with NNDSB students who access special education programs and services.
LEARNstyle provides technology coaching support for school boards and families. The project began in September 2020 for students in Grades 7 and 8 and has since been expanded to include junior and secondary students. The goal is to help the students adapt to the expansive use of technology in education.
The company builds relationships between the students and coaches, which leads to students trusting their coaches, and coaches understanding the student’s greatest need and choosing the best strategies.
Cunningham says coaching students with different abilities on utilizing technology can “change the trajectory of their life.” The goal is to move students through four stages – full guidance, moderate guidance, minimal guidance and full independence.
He added that cancellations and no-shows of NNDSB students is the lowest of any board and attributed that to the engagement and excitement of staff.
Trustee Harry Fry, Chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee, said “the success has been quite astounding.”
Lead shares information on Indigenous Education
At the request of the Equity Advisory Circle Committee, NNDSB’s Indigenous Education Lead, Tracy Hendrick, gave a presentation about the creation of resources that assist educators to better support Indigenous students and their families.
Hendrick says 10.8 per cent of the board’s students self-identify as Indigenous (First Nation, Métis or Inuit), although she expects there are more who are not comfortable identifying themselves. The self-identification helps the board create programs and supports for Indigenous students and their families.
Hendrick, who started in her position in fall of 2020, began using Sway, a Microsoft app, as a tool to keep herself organized. She soon discovered that it was a great way to curate content and make it available to anyone in the board. She has been adding resources for staff, including the creation of resources (by NNDSB Anishinaabemowin teacher Falcon McLeod) that are relevant locally, and in the local dialect.
The resources, she says, “are not for special events or by Indigenous People”. Hendrick says many non-Indigenous people want to teach Indigenous Studies courses and do it right, and the resources she’s compiled are comprised of content and how to teach it.
School trip preparedness being reviewed
Student safety and well-being is a priority at NNDSB, which also realizes that learning experiences outside of school can deepen understanding. To ensure that board policies and processes reflect provincial best practices and provide families with as much information as possible to make informed decisions, a thorough review of policies and procedures has resulted in the testing of a School Trip Preparedness (STP) template.
The template is a visual method of communication that shares the out-of-school learning opportunity with parents with maps, photos and concise language to identify the activity and rational for attending, map links for parents and emergency services, contact information of leaders and providers, curricular links, initial assessment and acknowledgement of risk, emergency preparedness including communication protocols and mustering areas, and more.
Specialist High Skills Major lead teachers were trained June 16 on how to complete the STP template, and future training dates will be held next school year. Information gathered from the first round of training, including teacher feedback will be used to update the board’s administrative guideline to align the guideline to the STP template.
Student Trustee provides final report
Madelaine Hall-Paradis, NNDSB’s student trustee, gave her final report to the Board. Her term ends August 30, and she was acknowledged as this is the last scheduled board meeting of her term. Cecilia Darling is the student trustee-elect.
Student Trustee Hall-Paradis reported on how various secondary schools managed graduation photos, how the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association is working to achieve menstrual product equity in all Ontario schools, and that students are encouraged to participate in a Pride month photo contest showcasing pride or solidarity for the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Trustees approve Multi-Year Strategic Plan
The Board approved the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) following an extensive 16-month collaboration with stakeholders. Over the summer, staff will get to know their role in the MYSP, which will be implemented in September.
Nanos Research, Ramsay Partners Inc. and Ministry special advisors Wayne Joudrie and Wally Easton engaged with stakeholders to gather input to determine strategic priorities for the board. Those priorities – excellence in teaching and learning, communication, building relations and innovation – will guide all work done by NNDSB for the period 2021-2026. All school, department and board improvement plans will align with these priorities, with student achievement and well-being at the centre of all the board does.
The MYSP is a living document that will be responsive to Ministry and community changes.
Board approves $160.9 million budget
Trustees approved the 2021-2022 budget, which has an operating revenue of $160.9 million. The budget was developed, after review for efficiencies and savings, to align with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) and provides resources that support the Board’s mission and vision. The Finance Committee met for a thorough review of the budget in advance of the Board meeting and recommended its approval.
Expenditures are projected at $161.2 million, resulting in a deficit of $417,000, or 0.3 per cent of the total budget. COVID has significantly impacted revenue and expenses this year, and the Ministry of Education is allowing boards to access previous years’ surpluses to assist with the current budget. The Ministry has allowed two per cent of operating grants ($2.9 million for NNDSB) but asked boards to budget half this amount.
Build committee engages with council, community
A report in the agenda package brought trustees up to date with the status of the Parry Sound Build Committee and its two sub-committees, the building and programming sub-committees.
The programming sub-committee’s focus will be on room allocations, move management and how to accommodate programming in the new build. The building sub-committee will ensure the project stays on track. There will be meeting over the summer with specific department staff to design specific spaces.
Representatives of NNDSB were invited to the Parry Sound town council meeting on June 1 to provide an update on the JK-12 build. The deputation lasted 90 minutes.
On June 8 there was a community session at which stakeholders heard from the architect about the new build. Members of the community were invited to provide comments and questions online. Now that the online form has closed, those questions and answers are being compiled and will be published on the board website.
Note: the full agenda package is posted on the website prior to meetings, and official minutes are posted after they are approved at the next board meeting.
Information about Near North District School Board:
Near North District School Board is an English-language public school board serving the North Bay – Parry Sound – Nipissing area. The Board consists of approximately 10,000 students in 27 elementary schools, seven secondary/senior schools and various alternative learning centres. For more information, please visit nearnorthschools.ca and follow Near North District School Board on social media.
For more information, please contact:
Deb Bartlett (she/her)
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170 ext. 5010