Dear Catholic School Students, Parents & Supporters,
A Blessed & Joyous Advent & Christ-mas Season to you and your family!
God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him
when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy Rosary Hosting 5th Annual Ward-Wide Catholic Leadership Meeting
Pastors, principals and parent council Chairs from across our downtown ward have been invited to this year’s annual ward-wide Catholic leadership meeting set for the new year.
Each year one of our discussion topics has been finding more ways to bring together our parish and school communities in support of each other – particularly important this year, the first of our 3-Year Pastoral Plan on family, school and parish. In addition, this coming January Luke Stocking from Development & Peace will be leading a discussion on how to advance our board’s Catholic Social Justice vision with our elementary and secondary students in partnership with our downtown parishes.
The evening will begin with Mass at Holy Rosary church celebrated by Monsignor Nusca, followed by a reception and meeting at Holy Rosary school. Pauline Sisters Book and Media will be there again this year with children and adult Catholic books for sale.
Initiatives Since September, 2015 Community Update
Meetings with City Councillors, MPPs & MPs: I met with Councillor Matlow to ask that we include items on the ‘City of Toronto/School Boards Taskforce’ agenda such as expanding the ability for schools to use city facilities (shared use) and fast tracking of city permits, which support all communities. I met with Councillors Layton and Mihevc, and MPPs Eric Hoskins and Han Dong advocating for ARC-related community hub partners and ministry funding. Councillor Cressy and I discussed planning for the joint TCDSB/TDSB elementary school to be constructed at Canoe Landing (September 2019). MPP Glen Murray and I met regarding the new TCDSB elementary school to be constructed in Regent Park (no target date yet), the ‘annex space’ at St Michael and capital funding for St Michael’s Choir School. MP Adam Vaughan and I discussed support for eco-initiatives.
Educating our students on Pope Francis’s Laudato Si: School boards have a clear role to play in Pope Francis’s urgent appeal for education, conversation and ‘profound internal conversion’ when it comes to ‘Caring for our Common Home’. Trustees approved my motion for staff to develop programming for students across our board to study, and reflect on, Pope’s Francis’s critical Encyclical letter which focuses on our interconnected relationships with God, each other and our planet.
Understanding Why Parents Chose TCDSB Schools: We do not currently ask parents / guardians why they selected a TCDSB school for their child (e.g. close to home, programming, EQAO results, transportation, facilities, school size, single gender). Understanding why students enter and leave our schools provides input to meet local needs and make informed decisions when it comes to planning. Trustees supported my motion for staff to create an entrance/exit survey – we are waiting to hear from staff on its creation and roll-out.
TTC Tickets for Secondary Students in Need: I recently made an urgent public enquiry at board, after calls from several parents letting me know that their child had not received TTC tickets – though there was an urgent economic need. Staff confirmed at board that about 80% of our high schools have more students in need of TTC tickets than we are able to provide them. We are waiting on staff to let us know what we can do to help our students – in partnership with the TTC, City and province.
Advocating to Reduce the Voting Age to 16 for Trustee Elections: Trustees defeated my motion (with a vote of 6 to 5) to write the province and advocate to reduce the voting age to 16 years of age for Ontario trustee elections. I submitted the motion as a response to the consistent low turnout of voters aged 18 to 30 – voting for trustee seemed a good place to start. At 18, many leave their home to attend college, university or search for work. Lowering the voting age allows students to vote before leaving their home. Studies show that those who get into the habit of voting earlier, are more likely to do so throughout their life. Parent voter turnout also grows as it increases the whole family’s interest in voting. This is not a new solution to the problem of voter engagement. Countries such as Austria, Brazil and Scotland have already lowered the voting age to 16. The Europe Union has encouraged all its member states to lower the voting age. New Brunswick, Massachusetts, New York and New Mexico are all currently looking at Bills to lower the voting age to 16.
EQAO Test Results for 2014 – 2015: Province-Wide Standardized Testing
The latest Education Quality & Accountability Office (EQAO) test results show that TCDSB students continue to improve in reading and writing, but mathematics continues to be an area of decline.
Over a 5-year period, TCDSB’s grade 3 results show an increase of 64% to 69% students meeting the provincial standard in reading, and an increase of 75% to 79% in writing, but a decline from 67% to 64% meeting the standard in mathematics. Over the same period, the grade 6 results saw improvements in meeting the provincial standard in reading (70% to 78%) and writing (75% to 80%), but again a decline in math (57% to 52%).
The below graph compares the latest results for our community of schools in TCDSB Ward 9 with the TCDSB as a whole. For more go to www.eqao.com.
2014 – 2015: Percentage of Students At or Above the Provincial Standard Level 3 or 4
Accommodation Review Committee Recommendations & Staff Reports at Board
Since my September update, the ARC recommendation reports were presented by parents at the November Board meeting. The St. Bruno/St. Raymond ARC recommendation is to consolidate at the St Raymond site with a request to the Ministry for funding to construct a new school. The Senhor Santo Cristo/St. Luke ARC recommendation is to consolidate at the St Luke school site with a request to the Ministry for funding to renovate the school. Additional recommendations in both reports included enhanced programming for students.
The recommendations in the staff report are the same as those of the community outlined above. The reports are on 8 December, Corporate Affairs agenda. As the community has been notified, delegations are welcome at the 8th and 14th December, Corporate Affairs meetings. Trustees will vote at the 21 January, 2016 Corporate Affairs meeting. There is some urgency – the Ministry has stated that they are reviewing funding requests in the new year.
Please note that a full Transition Plan will be developed and shared once approval has been obtained from trustees. There are separate consultation processes for the naming of consolidated schools and the seeking of partners for the creation of a community hub in the available schools.
Update – Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) 2016 – 2021
Trustees and senior staff recently had a joint workshop to review the draft MYSP for 2016 – 2021. The draft is expected to be on the December board agenda for approval to proceed with a public consultation. The draft retains the existing 6 major strategic aims from the 2012 – 2015 MYSP with overarching objectives for each.
Quantifiable and measurable goals for the MYSP objectives are laid out in our Board Learning Improvement Plan (BLIP) and local goals in each School Learning Improvement Plans (SLIP). Input received from the consultation will be presented to trustees and will inform the final MYSP to be presented to trustees at a future Board meeting for final review and approval before the end of the 2015 – 2016 school year.