March 18, 2021
Highlights from March Board Meeting
The following are the highlights of the Near North District School Board meeting of Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
Professional development available to trustees
There are many on-going professional development opportunities available to trustees serving boards of education. In addition to its monthly online sessions, Ontario Public School Board’s Association (OPSBA) offers trustee development modules.
Trustees are able to take advantage of training from the Ministry of Education (governance and election resources) and from the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA).
New registration process is equitable, accessible
A report provided by Superintendent Gay Smylie explained that NNDSB’s new online registration process is a move towards an inclusive and equitable registration process that demonstrates excellence in relationships, communication and innovation.
Updates to the registration form include the option of non-binary choices, including non-disclosed and self-identified under the gender section. This follows a school community survey conducted in 2019 titled This is Us. There is a space on the registration form to reflect any student’s chosen identity. The report on the new process states, “We want all students to feel welcomed and accepted; registering a self-identified gender should be as easy as registering a binary gender type.”
The form now allows for the selection of the language stream the student is entering, with a drop-down menu for the selection of English, French Immersion, and Extended French.
Sections of the form now reflect the acceptance of digital documentation. Parents and guardians are able to attach photos of the student’s proof of age and proof of address, and digital signatures are acceptable. These modifications, approved by legal counsel, will alleviate the need for identification to be seen and verified by school staff.
Additionally, the new form can be utilized by students registering in elementary and secondary schools and streamlines the process. Rather than going to a central location and being forwarded to schools, parents and guardians will now email the complete package to the secretary at the student’s school.
The new registration process came into effect on Monday, March 8, 2021.
Board seeks new Superintendent of Business
Recruitment has begun to select a Superintendent of Business at NNDSB, overseen by the ad hoc SBO Search Committee.
The committee endorsed the use of the Ontario Education Services Corporation executive search firm and has set a timeline that would tentatively see the potential candidate selected by mid-April 2021.
The search committee is comprised of the Interim SBO, the Director of Education, the Interim Manager of Human Resources, Board Chair Jay Aspin, Board Vice-Chair John Cochrane, and Trustee Nichole King.
Update provided on new W.J. Fricker School
Trustees were provided with a report from Interim Superintendent of Business Wally Easton on the progress of the construction of a new W.J. Fricker School.
The school has been closed and is scheduled for demolition with a new school to be built on the same site. With input from board staff, the architect’s design is 80 per cent completed, which allows the design to be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval. The 20 per cent to be finalized allows for tweaking before the project goes to tender.
The estimated cost of construction is $14.8 million, which is $2.4 million over the amount allocated by the Ministry. The shortfall has been discussed with the Ministry, which suggested trying to reduce the cost of the school.
The construction of the new school will take at least 10 months, and a delay to the already tight deadline with a redesign will not allow for a September 2022 opening. The report states there is money in reserve to cover the construction shortfall, but permission is required from the Ministry to do that. It was also pointed out that the tender could include requests for separate pricing on some finishes, which would allow for flexibility in choices.
The report recommends proceeding with the design as it is and completing the process for Ministry approval.
Multi-Year Plan Committee adopts terms of reference
The Multi-Year Planning Committee, responsible for developing, setting the direction for and assessing the framework of the 2021-2026 multi-year plan, has become a standing committee of the Board. The committee re-appointed Trustee Bill Steer as its Chair, and adopted its terms of reference, which was approved by the Board of Trustees.
The move to a standing committee means that once the strategic plan is developed, it will be monitored to ensure all departments were on track. Board Chair Jay Aspin called the multi-year strategic plan “a key goal we would like to accomplish this year…it’s our five-year anchor”. The committee has established its chair and adopted its terms of reference, which was approved by the Board of Trustees. Members of the committee are one trustee appointed as chair, one trustee as a general member, the Chair of the Board of Trustees is an ex-officio member, and the Director of Education or designate.
Other parties may attend as observers but are not able to participate or vote.
Among the committee’s responsibilities are developing a multi-year planning process, establishing timelines (benchmarks) to evaluate the current plan and assist in planning new strategic direction, providing recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding facilitator options and their costs, developing the 2021-2026 NNDSB multi-year plan, and discussing/co-ordinating with the Director of Education regarding the need for and use of staff resources.
The Multi-Year Plan Committee will meet as required and provide regular reports to the Board.
Update on status Multi-Year Strategic Plan
In March 2021 the Multi-Year Plan Committee met with the executive team and the system principals to refine the Board Improvement Plans for Student Achievement and Well-being. Feedback from the system team has shown the necessity of refining departmental improvement plans to include more specific process (action) goals to the objectives.
Communications, Program and Facilities will be aligned to the MYSP in late March and will ensure the creation of SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). Progress will be monitored and adjustments made as appropriate.
The managers of the HR, Business/Finance and IT departments will be supported in building capacity to engage in the planning that aligns to the MYSP.
Department planning is scheduled to begin in late March after Ramsay Partners has engaged in sessions to redefine board office department roles and task performance in addressing operational gaps. Teams must feel settled before engaging in collaborative plans that ask them to see their place in the work toward the department goals.
In a presentation to the Board, Corporate Affairs Officer Liana Blaskievich, who is a member of the committee, said all departments and the work they do will lead to student achievement and well-being. “Everyone is aware of the destination, and all paths lead to that destination,” she said.
KPMG appointed as Board’s external auditors
Acting on the recommendation of the Audit Committee, trustees approved the appointment of KPMG as the Board’s external auditors for a period of three years, with the option of two one-year extensions.
Parry Sound Build Committee takes over
The Parry Sound Architect Selection Committee has been dissolved, and the Parry Sound Build Committee has assumed oversight for the construction of the new Parry Sound build.
At February’s Board meeting, +VG Architects (The Ventin Group) was announced as the successful bidder of the tender to design the new facility, which will include a childcare centre, an EarlyON Child and Family Centre, and a JK-12 school.
Trustee Initiative Fund supports Team 1305
Trustees approved a $15,000 application to the NNDSB Trustee Initiative Fund, which supports organizations and projects that encompass students from across the board, to Near North Student Robotics Initiative (NNSRI), FIRST Team 1305, a competitive robotics team.
NNSRI supports STEM programming for students aged 6 through secondary school, from communities around the board’s catchment area.
Funding for 2021 was requested to buy tooling and materials for prototyping and building a robot at the high school level for this year’s competition, and next year’s expected full season.
The money will also support the establishment of a FIRST Tech Challenge team, buy LEGO equipment to support less able teams at the elementary school level, help fund registration costs at the provincial level for two levels of FIRST Teams, support event costs of 180 students from ages 9-14 to participate in a FIRST Lego League, and support team and event costs for the potential annual FIRST Lego league tournament.
The application says students get real-time experience that offers experiences in designing, building, programming and driving robots, learn engineering, scientific and business principles, interactions with professionals from the community, creating team businesses and presentation documents, developing written and verbal communication skills and the ability to compete at local, provincial and international level competitions.
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)
Information Communication Officer
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170 ext. 5010