Board Highlights – special meeting Aug. 5, 2021
Monday, Aug. 9, 2021
The following are the highlights of the special meeting of the Near North District School Board of Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
COVID management, return to school
Trustees of Near North District School Board received an update on COVID-19 management and return-to-school plans during the special board meeting Thursday night.
Director of Education Craig Myles told trustees that the Ministry of Education released its return-to-school guidance document on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Senior staff will carefully go over the document to understand what the return-to-school would look like. NNDSB sent a letter to families on Aug. 4, outlining a few key points and assuring families that when staff have plans in place, they would be shared.
Superintendent of Education Melanie Gray added that the board’s facilities department was well on the way to achieving the work required on ventilation systems in advance of the return to school on Sept. 7.
The province and public health units are encouraging anyone over the age of 12 who can get vaccinated to do so. There are no plans for vaccination clinics to be held at schools in the board.
Trustee Initiative Fund supports purchasing books
Trustees approved a $16,233 expenditure from the Trustee Initiative Fund to purchase 1,400 copies of the book This is What I’ve Been Told, written and illustrated by NNDSB teacher Julianna Armstrong, to be included in a resource bag that will be given to all Year 1 and Year 2 kindergarten students.
It is part of a new initiative called Journey into Learning that welcomes kindergarten learners and their families into the board. In addition to hosting board-wide events for families, Journey into Learning includes a bag with a guide and resources.
This year, the Early Years Team wanted a bag that more closely aligned with the visions and priorities of NNDSB as outlined in the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, with hopes of strengthening the bond between home and school.
This is What I’ve Been Told is an introduction to Anishinaabe language and culture. The report to the Board noted that beginning the Journey into Learning with an intentional focus on Indigenous Education signals the board’s values and visions to stakeholders and supports many of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically in the Education, and Language and Culture sections. Through the Trustee Initiative Fund, the Board of Trustees provides funding to organizations and projects that encompass an expanse of students from across the Near North District School Board, as a unifying platform. This application was approved unanimously.
Board seeking new trustee to represent Zone 2
NNDSB is seeking a trustee in Zone 2, following the resignation of Harry Fry, effective June 30, 2021. The Education Act provides the Board with several options for filling the position.
At Thursday’s meeting, trustees reviewed all options and opted to accept applications for the position, which will begin no later than Sept. 28, 2021 and end on Nov. 30, 2022, consistent with all trustees elected in 2018.
Zone 2 covers the areas of Bonfield, Mattawa and Callander.
Capital projects updated
Trustees approved the additional expenditure of $588,127 for 2020-2021 capital projects.
A report from Superintendent of Business Seija Van Haesendonck recapped the $5,786,015 of allocations from the Ministry of Education. This includes school renewal and school condition improvement funding.
Higher tender costs at six sites, as well as two unanticipated projects that were undertaken for site health, safety and security reasons, resulted in the need for the extra funding.
When the current projects are completed, there will be approximately $138,000 of school renewal allocation and $2,400,000 in school condition improvement funding remaining for future projects.
Consultant’s report on Parry Sound school received
The Board received a report from consultant Lygia Dallip on the JK-12 Parry Sound school being built, as recommended by the Parry Sound Build Committee. The report outlined requirements and expectations of the Ministry of Education throughout stages of capital projects, as well as a timeline of the build.
Dallip was engaged as an independent consultant to review the Board’s process related to the project. Her report outlines how the Ministry of Education uses a formula to assess effective use of school space. It is imperative that boards accurately account for enrolment, and the report says NNDSB has consistently been plus or minus two percent in its estimation of projected enrolments.
Addressing the concern of elementary and secondary students in the same school, the report notes the JK-12 model is a “means of managing the impact of declining enrolment across all grades.” It is a way to provide stronger extra-curricular programs in all divisions while providing stronger program opportunities for Grade 7 and 8 and specialized secondary school program spaces. Several boards in Ontario have JK-12 schools.
Partial demolition tender awarded for Parry Sound
Trustees awarded the tender for partial demolition at the site of Parry Sound High School to CLC Infrastructure Inc. in the amount of $937,618 plus HST.
Tender documents were reviewed by the Parry Sound Build Committee, which provided a recommendation to the Board.
Work will begin immediately to allow most of the demolition work to be completed before school begins, although there may be some on-going site work and some interior work taking place into September.
Board thanks Interim Executive Officer Easton
In a committee of the whole meeting held just prior to the Board meeting, Trustees had the opportunity to thank Interim Executive Officer Wally Easton for his work at NNDSB since February. He will be leaving the Board this week and has helped transition Seija Van Haesendonck into her role of Superintendent of Business.
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