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In the Spotlight !

The Province has required that all Boards in Ontario establish a Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) and following certain guidelines, mainly dealing with school councils and promoting parent engagement in the schools and in support of students generally. This was promulgated without reference to what Districts might already have in place and for instance without reference to the existing Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils (OCASC) which seeks to link, inform, enable and represent OCDSB school councils to the Board and staff and beyond. Nevertheless, a PIC is required. And the interim PIC is, again by law, entirely responsible for the drafting of its own bylaws (what it does, who gets on it, etc) without any Board or Ministry discretion or signoff involved. Drafting has been going on for some time by an interim PIC group.
These are motions I currently have in the queue coming to a Committee near you at some point this Fall / Winter ...

- Motion to ensure that transportation issues and joint transportation consortium reports are regularly reviewed and discussed as appropriate by an OCDSB standing committee (does not currently happen).
- Motion to ensure unused surplus amounts in departmental budgets return to central surplus (does not currently entirely happen).
- Motion to ensure that non-in camera staff memos to Trustees be made publicly available as well (does not happen).

I'm considering others though of course Rome was not built in a day and there is only so much one can realistically do, or expect the system to respond to, in a given time period. Still, if you have an idea for something you think can be improved by way of a motion then please let me know. Note in this connection however, that oftentimes the best way to resolve minor irritants is through dialogue of various sorts and not an actual motion.
Some time ago it was a local and provincial observation that the OCDSB did not have a fully developed over-arching policy on the provision of special education programs and services. For the last year or two various drafts of one have been circulating. Many in the community however were concerned that the opportunity for dialogue around how we deliver these programs and services should be expanded to address known irritants and not simply provide an over-arching framework for what we do now in the ways we already do it. As a result, the Board ordered a moratorium for one year on all congregated special education class closures of moves (allowing for new openings if necessary to serve needs though) for one year and struck a Special Education Policy Ad Hoc Committee (SEPAHC) to consult and review not just how this one special education policy might be improved but also how other policies or even procedures related to special education might be improved.
The OCDSB has since amalgamation 13 years ago had a Community Council on Ethnocultural Equity (CCEE) which sought to identify barriers to ethnic minorities and racialized groups within the OCDSB and provide advice on how to remove these barriers and promote greater inclusiveness. It was established based on a provincial guideline to Boards with respect to equity focus. That provincial guideline importantly broadened a couple of years ago to include equity concerns in all of its forms including GLBTQ, gender and even equity as relates to socioeconomic disadvantage, as well as ethnic minority or racialized concerns. As a result, the CCEE has felt that it needs to reconstitute itself in order to serve the Board with respect to advice on this broader conception of equity. This coincides with the winding down as well of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, set up to oversee the implementation of the Student Census initiative in the District and is in part a de facto merger of these two thrusts and a joint meeting between the two organizations has been planned.
The Province has directed that all Ontario school boards phase in all-day kindergarten over 5 years. We are in Year Two right now and for Year Three 49% of JK / SK students are to be all-day with it going to 100% by Year Five. Alongside all-day kinder the Province has mandated that all Boards offer extended school day before and after school care at their elementary schools with all-day kinder as part of a seamless day of care and instruction. The before / after care component is to be fee-based and must pass through all District costs to the parent per the Regulation and also must not make a profit. A separate subsidies pool is being developed by the Ministry to help cover the needs of families in serious financial constraint.
The community Working Group (WG) looking at the issues of overcrowding and low enrolment across Centertown and Capital Ward schools and neighbourhoods is ready to propose a couple of options for public comment. This public information evening will take place ...
7:00-9:00 PM Thu. Oct. 27th
Auditorium Lisgar Collegiate
I support the idea of a community schools focus in general terms however concern over special learners and safe haven and maybe incubator for new innovation means I cannot agree to completely close down the program. I also cannot see it expanded to compromise yet more community schools. Solving the program quality consistency problem and equity of access problem is key for me. Keeping a reduced program will be awkward but there is no strong reason to get rid of it either and there may be risks in doing so.
The 'Big One', in my view, has been introduced. OCDSB staff have proposed a new Special Education Framework to take us through 2011. It is explicit in wishing to relocate congregated classes to suburban locations where this makes sense to do based on travel times and given a concern with travel times and equity of access to services. The Framework likely will be discussed and decided on at Committee level on Wed Oct 22nd.