September 2013: Newsletter No. 2

Elected Member Report: Never did I see myself as one day being eager to discuss policy but after almost a year spent working in the trenches on more pressing issues facing various districts we’re now in a position to lift our gaze and look forward; at least for now. We’re at the point of being able to dedicate some time to policy. Your elected and appointed board representatives are a greatly varied, lively and opinionated bunch. We are working and retired; from private, public, and not-for-profit sectors; business owners and employees; parents of pre- and school-aged children and high school graduates; and householders. The group has exercised good thinking and done thorough work on issues and business and I look forward to seeing what it brings to policy. I also look forward to another year of reporting to you and of receiving your input.

Provincial Election: Remember that those who seek to represent you will, if successful, have a direct hand in how your child’s education shapes up. Are you concerned about the school review process or mandated lunchtime supervision? Frustrated by the way capital construction and improvements get planned, proposed, and approved? Poll your candidates for their views on these things and others and let them know know your thoughts. The Nova Scotia School Boards Association (NSSBA) asked the leaders of the three political parties to answer four questions on the future of public education. See here for the results of that survey.

Report cards: To ensure that parents are full partners in their children’s education, the province wants their input to develop a new report card to meet their needs. Parents and teachers can send in their ideas, suggestions and feedback via e-mail to ReportCard@gov.ns.ca or by regular mail to: Report Card Review, Box 578, 2021 Brunswick St., Halifax, N.S.,  B3J 2S9. Deadline for submissions is Sept. 30.

The search for a new superintendent is close to wrapping up. Since last year when Carol Olsen, past superintendent, became Deputy Minister of Education Judy White has been filling in. The superintendent is the sole employee of the elected board. He or she reports to the elected board and the elected board reports to the Minister of Education. That’s the line of authority. The hiring is a matter with which we’ve taken great care and to which we’ve devoted much attention.  The role of superintendent is a key influence in the shape schooling takes in HRM.

Other than the principal one of a school’s main points of contact with the board is the school administration supervisor. One supervisor is assigned to each family of schools. In District 4 we have two families of schools: Citadel and J.L. Isley. The supervisor for Citadel’s family is Wendy Mackey and for J.L. Islely, Joanne Syms. The School Advisory Council’s letter of agreement with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development ensures that schools have a dedicated line of communication with administration. Your principal is the first point of contact with administration and your supervisor the next. Invite them to a school meeting this fall if you’d like to meet them. And if you’d like to see me, invite me along too!

From the Department of I’ve-said-it-once-and-I’ll-say-it-again, some information worth repeating:

HRSB’s 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.

The Computers for Schools programme puts refurbished computer equipment into schools and related institutions across Nova Scotia. Visit their site for further information on the programme and instructions on how to donate. You can also donate by writing to Gerard Costard, gcostard@hrsb.ns.ca.

Powerschool: A look at your child’s real-time report card is an easy and useful way to support learning. It gives you the results of classroom assessment at a glance. It also gives you the means to make contact with teachers by email. If unsure of how to connect, contact your school principal.

Ever wonder why your school’s catchment area is what it is or how the boundaries change? Check out the Creating School Populations policy on the board website.

Final report from the external review of HRSB’s support of Rehtaeh Parsons.

School board or school board? The difference. HRSB is comprised of staff and elected/appointed board members. The two are often seen as one large group but they’re not. Each is very differently constituted. Board staff is hired and charged with day-to-day operations: the actual running of the schools. The elected/appointed board is responsible for policy and big picture as informed by the people we represent. I’m a member of the latter: elected. For this I receive an annual stipend of $9,300. In the media and elsewhere the reference is typically to “school board” without distinction made. There’s a difference.

And from a fellow board member a tip about the Indigo Adopt-a-School reading programme. Check it out: http://adoptaschool.indigo.ca/eng

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