Board draws on community
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is actively engaged in developing a ‘hub school model' to gather community resources needed to help children succeed in school and in later life. The hub model entails working in collaboration with social services, health services, academic and corporate partners.
To start, 20 schools (15 elementary and 5 secondary), have been identified based on a Needs Index using five factors: poverty, family/community, mobility, cultural/linguistic diversity and readiness to learn.
To build the hubs, community-based teams propose applying for grants; co-ordinating information about current programs and services provided by existing community partners and schools; providing training for principals and school councils in community development and outreach strategies.
According to Director of Education Jim Grieve, “In our increasingly complex society, where isolation is becoming more common and a sense of community is harder to build, educating our students must once again, as in past simpler times, become the responsibility of the whole community. Finding the helping hands and financial means to ‘deliver more than education' is not easy, and it is clear that we in education must depend on our communities to assist.”
The community hub concept emerged as a central theme from a Futures conference, held by the OCDSB in May 1999, with the participation of parents, staff, students and community service providers. As a result, a vision and objectives for the school as hub of its community are now part of the its Strategic Plan 2000-2003.
Caring communities connect for children
On May 10, leading experts on early childhood development gathered in Ottawa for the Building Connections Conference to share strategies and tools for mobilizing community action on the early years agenda. Throughout the three-day event, community members, practitioners, educators, researchers, policy makers and civic leaders joined panel presentations and breakout sessions to share community-based ideas to improve children's academic and lifetime achievements.
The conference brought together leading experts on the Early Years. The conference culminated with a live panel discussion with satellite meetings taking place coast-to-coast in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Fredericton. The satellite groups were linked via video networking from the University of Ottawa for a cross-Canada exchange of strategies for children.
“We've taken this opportunity to bring together the best minds in the country working on the early years agenda in order to benefit families in communities, right across the country,” stated Jim Libbey, Chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), which hosted the conference. “As trustees of one of Ontario's largest public school boards, we know the early years agenda is critical to our future students.”
Partnering with the OCDSB to make this unique conference a reality were Human Resources Development Canada, Health Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, The United Way, The Senators Foundation, Success by 6, the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Justice Canada.
Among the featured speakers were: Dr. Dan Offord, Director of the Centre for Studies of Children at Risk and Head of Child Psychiatry at McMaster University; Dr. Fraser Mustard and the Honourable Margaret McCain, Co-chairs of the Ontario Early Years Study; John Godfrey, MP and Chair of the Children's Agenda Caucus; Rod Bryden, Owner and Governor of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club/President and Chief Executive Officer, World Heart Corporation; and Monica Patten, President and CEO of The Community Foundations of Canada.
“This conference will encourage everyone to share their best practices,” stated Chair Libbey. “It is imperative that we share information between communities to benefit our young children. Two million bright young minds are depending on us.”
Speech and language students
The Board will write to the Ministries of Education and Health requesting they review the number and needs of pre-school speech and language students at the First Words, Pre-School Speech and Language Initiative in Ottawa, and provide appropriate additional funding which will allow the Board to provide supports to these students when they enter school without affecting others already in the system.
Planet enviro-science curriculum
On May 11 the OCDSB launched the DC Planet enviro-science curriculum, the first in North America. It celebrated its Better Schools Partnership with Duke Solutions to convert energy savings into school improvements.
Invited speakers included Randall Hayes, founder of the Rainforest Action Network which is dedicated to halt destruction of tropical rainforests; Brian Staszenski, founder of the Destination Conservation environmental education program; and Keith Butler of Duke Solutions whose company has completed the energy-saving retrofits.
Jim Libbey, Chair of the Board stated, “The OCDSB is actively working to reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions while teaching students ways to reduce energy use, conserve water, and minimize waste production.”
Students simulate colony on mars
On Saturday, April 28, students from ten schools in the OCDSB were in Marsville, a simulated Martian colony at the Museum of Science and Technology on St. Laurent Boulevard.
On Saturday, Link-Up Day, students in area boards met to construct the Ottawa colony and communicate via the web with other simulated Martian colonies in Vancouver, Watson Lake, Saskatoon, Toronto, Windsor and New Brunswick.
Participating OCDSB schools researched and built the following systems: Blossom Park PS food production and delivery; Broadview PS temperature control; Devonshire Community PS and Lady Evelyn Alternative School transportation; Henry Munro MS health and recreation; Leslie Park PS water supply; Meadowlands PS communications; Metcalfe PS waste management; R.Byrns Curry PS energy supply; and Rockcliffe Park PS air supply.
Assisted by Educational Technology Integrators from the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation the students displayed their work on a web site.
Community leaders' forum
The Board will organize a community leaders' forum including MPPs, municipal leaders, representatives from area boards, and local health and social organizations to develop community strategies related to the provincial funding formula for education including the formula for special education.
School year calendar 2001-2002
The proposed school year calendar for 2001-2002 was approved for submission to the Ministry of Education. The first day of school will be 4 September 2001; the Christmas Break will run from 24 December to 4 January; the Mid-winter Break from 11 to 15 March 2002; and the last day of school will be 27 June 2002.
The Board will petition the Ministry to increase the number of PD days (currently four), to allow time for curriculum training and in-service, and to request that secondary schools be allowed more flexibility in scheduling examinations.
As part of the cyclical review of Board policies, the Board's combined policy on harassment and abuse was separated into two policies, one dealing with employee misconduct toward a student, and the other revised to deal with alleged harassment of students and/or employees. Principals are responsible each year for ensuring that all students, staff and school councils are aware of these Board policies and supporting Board procedures.
The Board adopted an Antiracism and Ethnocultural Equity policy which was drafted in consultation with the OCDSB's Council for Ethnocultural Equity. The full policy is available on the board web site at http://www.ocdsb.edu.on.ca/.