November 2015: Newsletter

Happy report card week! The following is a selection of school board highlights and notes for your information.

It appears school may continue uninterrupted for students. The Province and Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union arrived at an agreement that will be put before the membership for ratification December 1, remarkable news given the tenor of negotiations elsewhere in Canada of late and the long and bitter disputes and disruptions seen in BC and Ontario. It will be especially interesting to see which items from the Minister’s Action Plan come to fruition in the agreement.

HRSB’s Long Range Outlook, the new provincially mandated starting point for all discussions related to school review, has begun to serve its intended purpose. Based on needs identified within the outlook Board staff will be recommending the formation of School Options Committees for Eastern Passage, Cole Harbour, and schools in the Citadel Family’s northern half, the north end of the peninsula. If the governing board accepts the recommendations, these areas will form the points of focus for the balance of the school year. The board will hear from HRM about the Regional Plan as part of its considerations.

The provincial Auditor General’s report on three of the eight Nova Scotia school boards is about to be released. Halifax is one of the audited boards. The focus is oversight and management of the delivery of educational services in schools during the 2014/15 school year. All boards and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) have seen and responded to the report and it will be made public this week.

On a separate but related note the governing board has formed an ad hoc committee to review what it feels, based on three years’ experience, is a model of governance that would add value to how the elected board fulfills its responsibilities. It does well with the collection of processes and systems it has but sees room, a path, and now possibly the means for continued improvement. More on that as it proceeds.

The LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary (LMST) School Steering Team (SST) for the replacement school is in place. This is the group that contributes to the design process, working with the Department-chosen design consultant, informed by a cross-section of relevant voices – school board, city, province. SAC chair David Jakeman, Principal Jeanne Boudreau, and an assigned facilitator will lead the SST process. The school board has now confirmed that the Universite Ste. Anne and Beaufort school sites across the street from LMST will be home to students during construction of the new school.

HRSB is reviewing its electoral boundaries. The need to do so comes on the heels of changes by HRM driven by a scheduled Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board process. The implications in this district relate to a small stretch along Purcell’s Cove Road that affects eight residents in and around the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. See link for details. Residents will be reassigned from their current to the adjacent district. This is the final week for the public to respond.

Superintendent Elwin LeRoux’s monthly reports identify stories from within schools and across the board that highlight the strategic plan in action and more. Good news stories? Absolutely. And why not, we’ve got a ton of them! Enjoy.

Although still relatively early it’s not too soon to start thinking about running for school board member in the next municipal election. Interested? I’m happy to share my experience with you. Elections take place in fall 2016.

The vast majority of school-related concerns that come up for students and families can be handled at the school level, working with those involved. Between teacher and principal the means exist to resolve most concerns. For the full process as captured in policy see the Parent Concern Protocol.

A note on newsletters. For communication purposes the 13 SAC chairs in this District now form a special area of focus for me. They’ll be receiving the monthly board and policy meeting agendas highlighting current discussion and information topics. Board business provides a regular and wide variety of starting points for the many discussions SACs and the board might have. I want to hear what SACs have to say. As mentioned in the first message, SACs together with the Minister and school board members constitute the elected arm of education in this province. It is our shared responsibility to be contributing to the ongoing improvement of the student and schooling experience. Newsletters of a more general nature such as this one will be issued as need dictates.

“Slow Down, We Love Our Children” signs have popped around the district. MLAs Joachim Stroink and Labi Kousoulis and Councilor Waye Mason have joined forces to produce this campaign and are encouraging residents living around schools and in areas where traffic is known to be problematic to display them. Email Waye Mason waye.mason@halifax.ca or drop by Joachim Stroink’s Quinpool Road office to pick one up.

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