The following is another compilation of news from the local English school boards as found on their web sites. First, the latest in happenings from the Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB).
Students to attend World Youth Day event
Thousands of high school students from the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board will attend a Mass at the Corel Centre in April to commemorate the arrival of the World Youth Day Cross.
The April 11, 2001 mass, which will be celebrated by Archbishop Marcel Gervais, will also be attended by high school students from the neighbouring French Catholic Boards. The arrival of the World Youth Day Cross will be the official kickoff leading up to World Youth Day, taking place in Ottawa and Toronto from July 18-28, 2002.
The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board has pledged to fully cooperate with the Archdiocese of Ottawa in preparing for the April mass and in helping to organize the Ottawa component of World Youth Day and our diocesan participation in World Youth Day in Toronto.
In a letter to the Board, Archbishop Gervais pointed out that up to two million young people from all over the world are expected to attend World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002, with about 25,000 of them expected to visit Ottawa for four days prior to the Toronto event.
Trustees said they are looking forward to attending the mass at the Corel Centre, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on April 11, 2001.
Historical committee commissioned by Trustees
The Board is interested in setting up a special committee to research and chronicle the rich history of Catholic education in the Ottawa-Carleton area. The Board feels this is an important exercise so that today's educational partners are aware of the historical evolution of the Catholic education system in this area. Members of last year's Millennium Committee are already investigating the development of an OCCSB museum. The new historical committee may work in cooperation with the museum group.
Interest expressed in former public school
The Board has expressed an interest in a school that has been declared surplus by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Brook Lane Public School is located at 148 Meadowlands Drive in Nepean and was closed in 1991. The OCCSB feels this school may offer opportunities to meet future accommodation needs.
The Board was told that the one-storey Brook Lane building is in good condition and is accessible for the handicapped. Staff will return to the Board at a later date with recommendations, if any.
Public input sought on FSL Review.
A public consultation meeting was held January 30 to receive input into the initial staff report on the French as a Second Language Review. This was one of a series of public consultation sessions that have been held over the past several weeks. Three information meetings, outlining several possible options for the community and Board to consider, were held in October at three Catholic high schools. In addition, information meetings have been held with the chairpersons of all the Catholic School Councils in the Board and the principals have been holding meetings over the past weeks with their individual School Councils.
After public input has been received, the FSL Review Committee will present a report to the Board with a series of recommendations on possible changes to the program. That presentation was scheduled for February 13. After that report is received by Trustees, another series of public consultation meetings will be held.
The Board will then make its final decision, with implementation of any changes to begin in the 2001-2002 school year. Implementation will be phased in, so students and teachers will have an opportunity to adapt. As a result of Board amalgamation and Ministry of Education policy changes, it became necessary to review the two models of delivery of French as a Second Language in the Board.
Next phase of Strategic Plan in place
The Board's Strategic Planning Process has entered the next stage with individual school strategic plans developed and being implemented. The next phase of the project will be to ensure that the identified goals are being achieved and to develop strategies to support the schools.
To achieve this, the Board's newly formed Catholic Education Accountability Office for School Improvement will be developing questionnaires for stakeholders, including ratepayers, parish priests, parents, students, teachers and Board administration and support staff.
Once the results of the survey have been received and analyzed, together with data from existing sources, a Board action plan will be developed to implement the Strategic Plan.
Safe schools policies being prepared
The OCCSB is developing policies and procedures to comply with the province's new Safe Schools Act. Several sections of the Safe Schools Act have already been enacted by the province, including the Code of Conduct, the requirement that the national anthem be sung daily in schools and guidelines ensuring the safety of schools, such as controlling access to school property by people other than students and staff.
However, the sections that deal with such things as suspensions and expulsions and regulations governing the implementation of school uniforms have yet to be proclaimed. They are expected to come into force in the fall and winter of 2001.
The Board's existing Safe Schools policies and procedures for all Board schools will remain in place until they are revoked or revised.
New School Council regulations in place
The Board was told that new regulations governing School Councils have been implemented by the provincial government. A committee has been formed to revise the Board's policies and procedures to reflect the new School Council Regulations.
The regulations contain a number of changes in the way School Councils operate. For example, Councils will be entitled to advise the school principal or the Board on any matter concerning the education of students. This extends to such things as the development of school improvement plans based on the results of province-wide testing conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).
According to the new regulations, all School Council elections will be required to take place within the first 30 days of the start of the school year calendar.
Ontario funding model not working here
The Board experienced a budget deficit of $2.57 million last year, proof that the provincial government's funding model does not work in Ottawa-Carleton, says A.J.M. (Art) Lamarche, Board Chairperson.
“We have to keep telling the Ministry that the funding model doesn't work here,” Mr. Lamarche said. “But we have to keep this deficit in perspective. It's only one per cent of our total budget.”
For the year ending August 31, 2000, the Board had net expenditures of $238.72 million, while funding from the province amounted to $236.15 million.
The deficit is the result of a number of unforeseen circumstances, including a reduction in funding for the summer school program for the developmentally handicapped, an accounting policy change by the Ministry regarding interest allocation and an increase in the number of retirees.
Phil Rocco, Director of Education, pointed out the funding problem is by no means unique to Ottawa-Carleton. He said a large number of school boards across the province are experiencing deficits.
The Board agreed to continue working with their education partners, including the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association and other school boards, to urge the Ministry and local MPPs to bring about necessary adjustments in provincial education funding.
The following material comes from the English public school board.
Board Makes Changes to Transfer Policy
More schools may be accessible to more students across the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board following an approval in principle on school choice and ongoing changes to the student transfer policy.
For the coming school year, students and parents can take advantage of two amendments that increase the overall availability of choice among schools in the district.
An amendment brought forward by Trustee Pam Morse allows secondary students the option of transferring to a school outside their designated area for program reasons, beginning in grade 9. The curriculum in grade 9 is generic across the system, with increased course selections being offered in grade 10.
“It is unfair to expect students to attend the first year of high school at their home school and then transfer to another school for the remaining three years,” said Trustee Morse.
That same amendment calls for the inclusion of “ease of access” as a reason to approve a transfer where space is available, although the Board will not be able to provide transportation. Generally speaking, this new amendment encourages schools with excess capacity to attract students from outside its designated boundary.
“I think we've created a more flexible process which gives parents and students greater alternatives,” states Jim Libbey, Chair of the Board. “The recent Elgin Street Public School initiative encouraging parents to drop students off on the way their way to work downtown is an example of that flexibility.”
Applications for student transfers must be submitted by March 1, and do not necessarily include transportation. Approval is dependent upon space being available at the requested school. Transfers may be granted for a variety of reasons, including childcare arrangements, mid-year change of residence, access to particular courses or programs and compassionate grounds.
Parents and students are encouraged to speak to their current principal about possible transfer options and the written information required when requesting a transfer.
A complete copy of the updated transfer policy and procedures (P.077.PLG: Designated Schools/Student Transfers), along with additional detailed information, can be accessed from the Board's web site (www.ocdsb.edu.on.ca) or by calling 721-1820.
To conclude this article, some education-related thoughts are presented for your consideration, compliments of the OCCSB.
The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things: the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit. -Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, Aristotle answered “As much as the living are to the dead.” -Diogenes Laertius (150 B.C.)
The secret of education is respecting the pupil. -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)