Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022
Board takes time to honour its accomplishments in 2021
Trustees of the Near North District School Board (NNDSB) took a few moments at their Jan. 11 meeting to appreciate the achievements made throughout 2021.
In a year that saw even more challenges presented by the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, staff of NNDSB forged ahead with plans to achieve the Board’s goals.
Director of Education Craig Myles spoke to the work accomplished in 2021 at the Board meeting. The presentation was accompanied by a document in the agenda package called 2021 A Year in Review. Highlights included the launch of the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP), acknowledgement by the Ombudsman of Ontario for implementing recommendations around transparency and governance, recognition for successfully implementing a vaccination policy procedure and being asked to support the Government of the Northwest Territories in doing the same, submission of successful grant proposals to enhance services, commencement of the process of building new schools in North Bay and Parry Sound, increased stakeholder communication, formation of the Equity Advisory Circle and Indigenous Youth Circle, launch of a Personal Support Worker program throughout the district and begun a reorganization to better align resources.
“These results are very pleasing,” said Board Chair Jay Aspin. “As Trustees, in 2018 we were given a public mandate to reform and rejuvenate the Near North board. With the strong support of the Board of Trustees and the solid leadership of Director Craig Myles and his senior leadership team, we are accomplishing our goals despite the harsh, disruptive pandemic conditions we’ve faced. Our heartiest congratulations to everyone for working so hard toward the achievement of these goals.”
In the area of human resources (HR), the board has begun recruitment and selection processes to build talent pools of future leaders. Leadership development and succession planning are a focus, with learning modules that staff are able to work on independently.
NNDSB’s finance committee has developed a budget procedures manual that aligned the budget development process with the MYSP goals of student achievement and well-being. A monitoring process ensures trustees are apprised quarterly of financial operating results, accumulated reserves and the trustee development reserve fund.
Staff maximized provincial and federal offers of funding for COVID-19-related support. NNDSB secured funds to purchase laptops, iPads and internet connectivity devices for use by students. Staff aggressively pursued federal government funding that supports energy efficiency and air quality improvement at NNDSB schools.
On the capital planning front, NNDSB is working on two new schools. The JK-12 Parry Sound School will be a space in which students will seamlessly transition from daycare through secondary school in a modern building. In North Bay, the new Fricker build will accommodate students in JK-6 from Carmichael and Norman, as well as extended French students from Fricker.
Several modifications were made to Board governance, all of which were initiated to improve efficiency. In September, a proposal was accepted that gave expressed consent from the Board to the senior administration team to proceed to public consultation on the development, creation or update of administrative guidelines, eliminating the delay in requesting consent to seek consultation. Another change was the development of the Extraordinary Circumstances by-law, which allows for the Chair to act on behalf of the Board to temporarily invoke the by-law to deal with an emergency or extraordinary circumstance.
NNDSB began the process of streamlining processes and better aligning role responsibilities. The board is creating role descriptions for all departments and is merging operational roles in finance and human resources. A flow chart is being created that will graphically and clearly illustrate organizational structure. The board is working to fill gaps in areas determined as understaffed, beginning with the hiring of an HR manager in August 2021. A plan for cross-training will ensure smooth business operations in and between departments, and the process of recruiting vice-principals, principals and supervisory officers is being strategically designed.
The board also continues to work to maintain the confidence of its various stakeholder groups. The board has formed an equity advisory circle, an Indigenous education advisory circle and an Indigenous youth circle, all of which increase communication and collaboration in the provision of education to a wide range of students. The board remains focused on reconciliation and building stronger relationships with Indigenous staff, students and communities. A new communications team has improved the quantity and quality of communications with stakeholder groups and strives to keep all groups apprised of news in the board.
A major achievement in 2021 was the creation of a PSW program that will train and certify workers in all areas of NNDSB. Partnerships were formed with healthcare organizations who will provide space in living classrooms, allowing students to learn on-site and use their knowledge immediately in practical application of the skills.
Director Myles said he was inspired by the volume and quality of work that was accomplished last year as staff faced challenges caused by COVID-19. “I know staff are under tremendous pressure during this pandemic, yet time and again, this team is able to deliver. The MYSP has charted the course for this board, and I’m proud to see staff forge ahead in the service of student achievement and well-being.”
For more information, please contact:
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170, extension 5010