Friday, Sept. 24, 2021
Board Highlights for September Meeting
The following are the highlights of the Near North District School Board (NNDSB) meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Elder Evelyn McLeod provides opening prayer
The Board of Trustees welcomed Elder Evelyn McLeod of Nipissing First Nation to provide the opening prayer of the Board meeting.
Elder McLeod offered a smudge prior to her prayer, which was offered in the Nipissing dialect of the (Ojibwe) language.
New Student Trustee Darling sworn in
NNDSB’s new Student Trustee, Cecilia Darling was sworn in at the Board’s Sept. 21 meeting.
In her initial report, Student Trustee Darling noted many students are excited to be returning to school and are taking advantage of the warm weather to safely socialize.
Her report also noted that several of the secondary schools have been giving orientation tours to new students, have been holding spirit days and are organizing their elections.
Student Trustee Darling also promoted the launch of the Student Voice initiative and noted that she has created a video to encourage student participation.
NNDSB acknowledged in ombudsman’s report
NNDSB has been acknowledged in the 2020-2021 annual report of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario for making positive changes regarding transparency and process in response to closing Widdifield Secondary School. In the 2019 report, Ombudsman Paul Dubé had identified areas for improvement, and provided 14 recommendations.
Twelve of the recommendations have been implemented. The remaining two are reliant on the Ministry of Education’s update of its Pupil Accommodations Review Guideline.
In his report to the Board, Director of Education Craig Myles said he has “met “proactively and regularly with counsel from the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office to provide further reports on the board’s continued diligence towards the implementation of the recommendations”. He noted that governance and best practice recommendations are now “firmly entrenched in our established practice”.
Summer school enrolment increased
A report from Superintendent Melanie Gray and Principal Jamey Byers detailed the successful summer school program provided by NNDSB. The program helped learning recovery and increased credit accumulation while creating more partnerships that benefit students.
Because summer programming took place online, students from across Ontario were able to take NNDSB courses. The online system allows students whose home board may not be offering that course to register and learn with NNDSB. It also accommodated students in this board, who may have not been able to secure transportation to North Bay.
Approximately 500 students took part in summer high school credit programs, an increase of 28 per cent over the previous year.
There were 80 credits earned this summer through the co-op program; some remote, some in-person and some blended. A new partnership included a co-op at the Virtual Robotics Training Academy (VTRA) a high-tech educational company. A NNDSB student was their first co-op student working to develop and test a virtual robotics simulator.
The board also developed two new courses. The Health for Life course is an alternative to traditional in-school gym credits, and a Learning Strategies course focuses on personal wellness and healthy communities. Learning Strategies was advertised to Grade 8 students to get a head start on their secondary school credit accumulation.
The board also enjoyed another summer of collaboration with the Canadian Ecology Centre. More than 140 students from across Ontario registered with NNDSB and learned in the outdoors at the CEC.
Upcoming Board meetings scheduled
At its September meeting, the Board of Trustees brought forward the meeting schedule for the 2021-2022 school year.
Regular meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, Oct. 12; Tuesday, Nov. 16; Tuesday, Dec. 7; Tuesday, Jan. 11; Tuesday, Feb. 15; Tuesday, March 15; Tuesday, April 12; Tuesday, May 17 and Tuesday, June 14.
NNDSB Board of Trustee meetings will continue to be held virtually using Zoom. Links to the meetings can be found at the top right corner of each meeting’s agenda package. Agenda packages are posted on this page two business days before the meeting.
Focus of MYSP shifts to implementation
Director of Education Craig Myles spoke about his responsibility for implementing the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP), which was approved at the June Board meeting.
The official launch of the plan took place at the August conference for principals, vice-principals and managers, where the alignment of improvement plans in all areas of the board were reinforced. The four priority areas are Excellence in Communications, Excellence in Building Relationships, Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Excellence in Innovation.
Ensuring that all staff understand the alignment of all strategic plans to the four priorities is a key component of the MYSP.
Myles outlined achievements in each of the four areas already, including communications protocols and tools, new learning and childcare partnerships, supporting learning recovery with diagnostic assessment tools and instructional resources, remote learning readiness, a leadership learning framework and innovation in using more technology in the classroom and in delivering professional development for staff.
New Zone 2 trustee appointed
The Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Caren Gagne as the NNDSB Trustee for Zone 2.
Ms. Gagne is a resident of Zone 2 and operated a business there with her husband for 40 years. She has been a dedicated volunteer, giving her time to many organizations, all of which worked at bettering the community.
Trustee-elect Gagne will be sworn in at the Board’s Oct. 12 meeting.
Virtual school enrolment numbers
Superintendent Tim Graves submitted a report that says NNDSB has 226 students enrolled in virtual learning for the school year. There are 122 elementary and 104 secondary students enrolled in NNDSB’s virtual school.
New and returning educators are working at the virtual school. Staff connected with families prior to Sept. 7 to ensure students felt prepared for the start of school.
The board is providing devices and internet access to support students.
Consultation process streamlined
Superintendent Gay Smylie presented a report to the Board that proposed a new process to streamline the consultation process required for development, creation or update of operational policy and guidelines.
Currently, trustee approval is required to proceed to a public consultation on a proposed guideline, policy or update. To avoid delay and time at a public meeting to have a consultation approved, NNDSB’s executive council sought the Board’s expressed approval to move all administrative guidelines to public consultation once approval has been provided by executive council.
This process expedites the consultation process while upholding the integrity and intent of the Board’s governance policies.
Extraordinary Circumstances By-law approved
The Board approved the addition of an Extraordinary Circumstances By-law to its governance manual. The new by-law gives the Chair the authority to act on behalf of the Board to invoke the Extraordinary Circumstances By-law to temporality set aside specific by-laws when faced with an emergency or extraordinary circumstances.
The examples given in the presentation were situations encountered while operating during COVID-19. The addition of the Extraordinary Circumstances By-law provides a tool to support efficient governance, while maintaining stringent accountability measures that include advising trustees upon invocation and a ratification of the decisions at the following regular meeting.
The addition of one Extraordinary Circumstances By-law removes the need for all existing by-laws to be amended, saving time, work and resources.
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.
For more information, please contact:
Deb Bartlett (she/her)
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170 ext. 5010