December 2013: Who am I to you and who might I be?

Nothing prevents or excuses me from representing you. I can be useful to you in a variety of ways. The policy governance role doesn’t prevent that; it’s part of that. Relating to policy is the governing board’s primary responsibility but helping you find answers to practical questions and talking with you about issues specific to you or your school is all in the service of that responsibility. For the role to be less than that is to operate in a vacuum. Not only is there a place for everything you might possibly want to talk about but in so doing a policy purpose might also be served. If anyone reading this thinks our mandated policy governance role is an obstacle, it is not. It’s simply the end product of what we do.

Policy or corporate governance, the model by which the governing board is meant to operate, focuses us on governing at the topmost level of the system. We are meant to fix our sights on things that effect the shape learning takes. But the only way for us to fully perform that function is to know what’s happening on the ground. The two most reliable sources for that are your experiences as users of the system and an understanding of the issues you face. Parents, non-parents, students, staff – all have a stake in what happens. As board members we are conduits, collectors, disseminators, and facilitators of and for the information and conversations that need to happen in order to continue to improve the school experience.

And just in case this suggestion of collaboration smacks of runaway naiveté or optimism, be assured that it is tempered by this quote from OntarioSchoolTrustees.org<http://OntarioSchoolTrustees.org&gt;: “Often referred to as ‘an unnatural act performed by unconsenting adults’ collaboration is difficult because it requires going beyond simply sharing knowledge and information…It is more than relationships that help each party achieve its own goals. The purpose of collaboration is to create a shared vision and joint strategies to address concerns that go beyond the purview of any particular part.”*

But just think about it. How many other agencies in HRM have a staff of 8,000, a budget of $400m., and clients numbering close to 50,000? If ever there was something worth collaborating on it’s school and kids.  Don’t ever hesitate to let me know what you think.

The search for a new superintendent yielded Elwin Leroux: board employee, native Nova Scotian, and someone who’s dedicated himself to kids, his own learning, and education in a way that’s informed, current, and forward-thinking. We all stand to benefit. His replacement as Senior Staff Advisor is Gary Adams, past area supervisor for the J.L. Ilsely family. Those who attended the French Immersion meeting at J.W. MacLeod last spring will remember both Elwin and Gary, the presenters. And the new Director of Program, Alison Leverman , brings to three the number of staff changes at the top and the feeling that HRSB’s staff leadership is in particularly good shape as we proceed.

Awaiting provincial announcements. We’re waiting on two things from the Province: news of which capital projects submitted by HRSB last spring will be approved and the discussion paper on the school review process. Unless the new government is delayed in getting to these things, November should bring some news.
2013-17 Strategic Plan: The four main themes are: 1. Student Achievement/Success, 2. Exemplary Teaching, 3. Equitable Opportunities for Students, 4. Public Confidence in Education.

* http://modules.ontarioschooltrustees.org/en/read/authentic-governance-through-ethical-leadership

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