February 2013: Newsletter

These monthly updates find me in a constant battle to whittle down the amount of news that could be shared. The job is information rich but so too is life in general. In an attempt to not overstay my welcome in your inbox I’ll stick to a few highlights.

 Class caps

A new class cap of 25 was just announced by the Department of Education for grades Primary to 3. HRM is one of the areas that stands to benefit the most from this decision. Hats off to the Sir Charles Tupper community for lobbying the province so vigorously on this issue.

A reminder of the strength of community

The past week’s regular monthly board meeting heard a large number of presentations from Bedford parents speaking to last May’s defeated motion to send the grade 7, 8, and 9 students of Bedford South and Bedford Junior High schools to the soon-to-be vacated Charles P. Allen High School, some at Bedford South preferring their P-9 to remain intact. Over time all districts encounter their own version of this: school communities needing to contemplate change and experiencing a divide. Difficult though the discussion is the heart, intelligence, and passion with which people express themselves is remarkable and essential to the process. In the coming days we’ll be involved in similar community feedback sessions involving schools and communities on the Eastern Shore and in Sackville.

School cancellations

So far in the 2012/13 school year there have been two snow days. In 2011/12 there were none for the Citadel family of schools but one for most others. In 2010/11 there were four and a half days, the half representing an early dismissal, and in 2009/10, one. This is an appreciably different story from 2008/09 when there were seven and a half days with some boards in the province experiencing as many as 12. It was then that Dr. Jim Gunn was commissioned by the province to investigate and report on storm-related cancellations. The board has since improved its handling of cancellations including the use of more reliable forecasting and better communication with families but the question may remain: is a different handling required? A 2011 motion on the issue proposed an alternative to the current policy and suggested that “the normal expectation is that schools will be open and staffed on each scheduled school day.” See Item 9.1 for the full wording. If interested, please feel free to contact me with your thoughts. I’ve suggested to the governing board that depending on what we’re hearing from our districts we may want to look at this again.

Online learning

Any student registered in grade 11 or 12 at an HRSB school can access online learning courses through Nova Scotia Virtual Schools. See website for information.

 District visits

I’m available to visit schools most Fridays. If you want to meet and talk, let me know. And if there’s something in particular you’d like me to attend, let me know.

My calendar tells you what the governing board is working on at its weekly sessions over the next several weeks. Click on dates for details.

Things worth repeating:

Got a concern that needs addressing? The Parent Concern Protocol lays out the way to get the ball rolling beginning with the simple and informal and progressing to the official.

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