The Carlington Summit

OCCSB News

by David Darwin.

The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB) has authorized administration to acquire two schools that have been closed by the French Catholic Board.

The Board will move students from two existing schools into the buildings, which in both cases are improved facilities that will cost less money to operate than the existing schools. The move will still allow each school, St. Elizabeth and St. Daniel, to preserve their community schools because the new locations are within each school's attendance boundary.

Students at St. Elizabeth School, 893 Admiral Ave., will move into the former St. Bonaventure School, 1366 Coldrey St., after approximately $1.6 million worth of improvements are made to the St. Bonaventure building.

Students at St. Daniel School, 1160 Maitland Ave., will move into the former Gaston Vincent School, 1313 Field St., after approximately $432,000 worth of improvements are made to the building.

In both cases, the original names of the schools will remain after the moves. Administration plans to have the new schools occupied by September 2001, but that will depend on the scope of work that must be done at each site and the construction schedules during the summer.

The Catholic School Councils and members of the school communities at both schools were consulted throughout the process prior to the recommendations being brought to the Board. In addition, parents were given an opportunity to tour the new facilities. In both cases, the moves will reduce the Board's overall pupil places, which will produce capital grants from the government that the Board will be able to spend for new school construction and improvements at other schools in the system.

Peace conference a success.

More than 300 high school and intermediate students attended the OCCSB's eighth annual Student Peace Conference on Friday, February 23 at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

The theme for the day-long event was “taking personal responsibility.” Student delegates representing all of the board's secondary and intermediate schools participated in sessions dealing with drinking and driving, safe grads and the effects of bullying and gossip.

“This is a very important event,” said Board Chairperson A.J.M. (Art) Lamarche. “This Peace Conference teaches students the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, and helps promote a safer school environment.”

Following the conference, two high school hockey games were played. In addition, the evening Ottawa 67's hockey game was declared OCCSB night. Thousands of elementary and high school students from the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board were in attendance, and were highlighted throughout the evening.

The Peace Conference is made possible by the ongoing support of the Patricia Allen Memorial Fund, and the participation of the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ottawa Police Service, the Ottawa-Carleton Insurance Brokers' Association and the Ottawa 67's Hockey Club.

Board receives FSL staff recommendation.

The Board has received the staff recommendation for the delivery of French as a Second Language (FSL), and now will obtain public input at a series of consultation meetings.

The staff report recommends that the new Board-wide FSL program be phased in over a four-year period in order to minimize the impact on students, parents and staff.

Public meetings will be held in March and school-based meetings will be conducted by the individual principals in collaboration with School Councils in order to receive as much public input as possible. The Board will then meet in early April to make a decision on the first year of implementation, which would be effective in September 2001.

The remaining consultation meetings, which all begin at 7 p.m., will be held Thursday, March 22 at Immaculata High School, 140 Main St., Ottawa and Monday, March 26 at St. Patrick's High School, 2525 Alta Vista Dr., Ottawa.

In December 2001, the Board will make a final decision on the staff recommendation, including a timetable for the remainder of the phasing-in period. This final decision will be made after a comprehensive study of the financial, school organization and staffing implications of the new program on individual schools.

After full implementation, the staff recommendation calls for a single French immersion track in Junior and Senior Kindergarten, a single Extended (75% English-25% French) track in grades 1, 2 and 3, a dual Extended and Immersion (50% English-50% French) track in grades 4, 5 and 6 and a triple Core (40 minutes French per day), Extended and Immersion track in grades 7 and 8.

In addition, the grade 9 to 12 program, which is a function of Ministry of Education requirements and student choice, will be harmonized across the Board.

For Year 1, the staff report recommends that the Immersion program be introduced for Junior Kindergarten at the Ottawa sector schools and the high school Immersion program in the Carleton sector be harmonized with the current Ottawa sector. In both sectors, high school Immersion students will be required to take a minimum of 10 French courses by the end of grade 12 in order to qualify for a French certificate.

Over the following three years, the rest of the program will be phased in, but not until the Board has voted on the plan in December 2001.

The staff report recognizes the importance of the community school concept and identifies the need for students to master English as a first language. The recommended program also provides a sound basis in the primary years for the development of French language skills, which facilitates the successful transition to an Immersion program. There will be no need to increase the number of French-language teachers after the proposed program is fully implemented.

Volunteers to receive recognition

During National Volunteer Week in April, the Board will officially recognize the hundreds of volunteers who provide support to the students and staff at all of the Board's schools.

In recognition of the International Year of Volunteers 2001, the Board will declare Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Days from April 16 to 20, 2001. The Trustees agreed that volunteering is becoming key to healthy communities, and it is important to raise the awareness about the vital contribution volunteers have made and continue to make in the schools.

Initiative helps improve literacy.

The Ministry of Education's new funding initiative will help the Board improve the literacy of students in the primary grades.

The Early Literacy Grant for the OCCSB totals $1.2 million for this school year. The grant is intended to help the Board provide early and substantial assistance for kindergarten to grade 3 students with the goal of ensuring literacy in English.

The OCCSB is using the money this year to augment existing programs and to develop new ones.

Classes will be provided with literacy kits that include non-fiction and fiction books that are geared to the ages of the children. Teachers' guides are also included to help them work the material into the curriculum. The program will also include English as a Second Language support.

In the coming years, there are plans to expand the program and to purchase more materials.

System, school profiles ready for distribution

This year's edition of the Board's System and School Profiles have been distributed to the system.

Copies of the profiles have been provided to all the schools, Catholic School Councils, the Archdiocese and provincial and municipal offices and institutions.

The profiles have been publicly recognized by the Education Improvement Commission (EIC) for the way they “celebrate the individuality of each school, detailing the academic and extracurricular programming, school events and a summary of student progress and outstanding school and student achievements.”

Board Chairperson Lamarche said the profiles highlight many of the accomplishments taking place within our schools. He praised Board staff for their hard work and dedication in preparing the profiles. “It's a tremendous document,” he said.

Thought for the week

I call a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously of all offices, both private and public, of peace and war - John Milton (1608-1674).