The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) has approved revisions to the Policy on Opening and Closing Exercises for Schools. This policy, as amended by the Board in accordance with new provincial requirements under the Education Act, will require the singing of the National Anthem. It also provides for the optional inclusion (in English or French) of the recitation of a pledge of citizenship. A decision on the recitation of this pledge is to be reviewed annually by the principal in consultation with the school council.

The Board has approved a consultation process and timelines for recommending revisions to the OCDSB school councils policy and procedure which are required for September 2001 as a result of Ontario Regulations 612/00 and 613/00. A task group, to be composed of 11 parents, 2 trustees, 2 principals, 2 teacher representatives, 2 secondary students, 1 non-teaching school staff member and 1 Superintendent of Schools, was charged during April/May 2001 to consult with constituent groups and recommend potential changes to the policy in accordance with the new provincial requirements. The Board confirmed the appointment of Trustees Lynn Scott and Joan Spice to serve on the Task Group.

The important new policy re Antiracism and Ethnocultural Equity was approved. Extensive consultation with the OCDSB's Community Council for Ethnocultural Equity took place prior to Board approval.

A draft Internet Acceptable Use Policy was approved in principle, for circulation for consultation and input to schools, school councils and OCASC.

The text of all current Board policies is available on the Internet at: http://www.ocdsb.edu.on.ca/Policies_Procedures/Policies/Policy.htm.

Special education initiatives

Two Special Education Advisory Committee recommendations were considered and adopted by the Board. The first will have the OCDSB write to the Ministries of Health and Education requesting that they co-ordinate a review of the number and needs of pre-school speech and language initiative students and co-ordinate appropriate additional funding to enable the OCDSB to provide supports to these students without depriving students already in the Board who require speech and language support.

The second will see the Board organize a community leaders' forum (to include MPPs, City of Ottawa politicians, representatives from the four area school boards and from local health and social organizations) to develop community strategies related to the provincial funding formula for education, including the formula for special education.

Elementary accommodation issues

The Board approved the production, by the end of May 2001, of a detailed set of maps for each family of elementary schools illustrating: i) the location and names of all elementary and secondary schools; ii) the names of all major streets and barriers; iii) the current catchment areas of all existing elementary schools, including the names of streets and barriers; and iv) residency during the 2000-01 school year of all students, the elementary schools in which they are enrolled, and their grade levels and programs.

The Board also approved the preparation, by early fall 2001, of a revised capacity for each elementary school based on the new ‘on-the-ground' Ministry capacity, and taking into account: i) playground space availability; ii) potential for portable placement; iii) computer labs in K to 6 schools that are not adjacent to libraries; iv) the statistical likelihood of having an uneven number of Kindergarten classes; and v) any other factors judged appropriate, as proposed by staff and confirmed by the Board, or as directed by the Board before the end of June 2001.

Budget 2003 forecast

The Board's web site has been updated with a presentation outlining the projected financial situation of the Board in 2003. The 24-slide presentation indicates an overall shortfall of $54.7 million if the provincial funding model is not modified. The presentation may be found at http://www.ocdsb.edu.on.ca/Board/Budget_Forecast_2003/index.htm.