At the close of this school year, congratulations to all of our students, and thank you to our staff and parents – wishing you and your family a happy and blessed summer!
Below are a few highlights from my last community newsletter for the 2013 – 2014 school year. For the full newsletter: Jo-Ann Davis June 2014 community newsletter
An End of Year Prayer
Let’s put ourselves into the hands of the Lord, and pray that God will bless us and our families
during the wonderful months of summer.
May we all help make our home a place of relaxation, joy, love, peace and safety.
May we be generous and considerate, not thinking only about ourselves,
but helping others enjoy the blessings of a summertime.
Lord God, Creator of all things, guide our steps and strengthen our hearts,
during these months of summer and vacation days.
Grant us refreshment of mind and body.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Advocacy & Initiatives- Since my April, 2014 Newsletter
Below are highlights of work since April in both my roles at Chair of the Board and Trustee for Ward 9 since April, 2014:
• Toronto and Region Conservation Authority Roundtable: I was invited to join this roundtable by the Toronto Conservation Authority – the objective being to find ways to increase the opportunities available to our students to participate in outdoor learning. The initial meeting of the rountable took place in May with several other Board Chairs in attendance. There was general agreement that any expansion of outdoor educational opportunities for students should be connected with the curriculum. As a result, the next meeting being planned for the fall will include the appropriate senior staff from each participating school board.
• Archdiocese of Toronto: I met with Neil MacCarthy from the Archdiocese to reinforce the importance of the relationship between the TCDSB and the Archdiocese in supporting the faith development of our students, and to ensure clear communication channels on important issues
• Creation of Independent Ombudsman: Trustees voted in favour of putting aside an allocation in the 2014 – 2015 budget for the creation of an Ombudsman – a role for which I’ve been advocating since being elected trustee. An Ombudsman would support the critical goals of good governance, public confidence, and student achievement and well being. The primary role of an Ombudsman is to act as an independent investigation of issues which the TCDSB community brings forward – our existing conflict resolution remains in place, but the Ombudsman provides an ‘office of last resort’. An Ombudsman assists in overseeing the administration of our policies, comments critically upon how they are being administered and recommends policy changes, where they seem appropriate. The position details are still to be developed, but the Director has been given the direction to proceed, and it is my hope that the position will be in place before the end of this term in November.
• Meeting with our union partners: The Vice Chair and I met with James Ryan, president of provincial OECTA, to discuss areas of opportunity and concern, and the coming collective bargaining.
• City of Toronto / Toronto School Boards Task Force: As one of two TCDSB trustees on the Task Force I attended the meeting at City Hall in May. The meeting had two main agenda items: the City’s Youth Strategy and the recommended Terms of Reference for the Task Force for the next term following this October’s municipal election of councillors and trustees. Given the need to work together on a variety of issues for our students and school communities – from green spaces to community use and ongoing development – the recommendation is that the Task Force be reconstituted in the next term. With the municipal election this fall, the next meeting will likely take place in early 2015. Meeting minutes: http://www.tcdsb.org/Board/TrusteesoftheBoard/Committees/Pages/Toronto-School-Boards-Task-Force.aspx
• Creation of a Filipino Community Advisory Committee: Using the framework developed for the Spanish and Portuguese Advisory Committees, trustees have approved the creation of a Filipino Community Advisory Committee in support of student achievement and well being for our largest non-English speaking community – 8.9% of our student population or about 8,000 students across Toronto. As a result, staff will be contacting Filipino community partners to invite them to act as members on the committee – staff recommendations regarding membership to the committee will then be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval.
Board Highlights – Since my April, 2014, Newsletter
• 2012 – 2015 Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) – Community Feedback: Staff presented the results of its 2013-14 the MYSP survey (MYSP Report Card) based on a broad dissemination, community engagement and communication plan executed in 16 different languages. A total of 18,772 parents/guardians, and 1,062 staff members submitted responses. The large response rate provides a great snapshot in the assessment of the level of knowledge of TCDSB stakeholders with regards to the MYSP. Overall, parents/guardians, students and staff affirmed the Board’s implementation of the MYSP. For most items of the Report Card, over 60 percent of parents and staff ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that the Board is delivering on the MYSP’s six strategic directions. Areas of particular strength, with over 95% agreement, were in the critical areas of Living Our Values and in creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for our students.
• 5th Consecutive Balanced Budget: Trustees approved a $1.12 billion budget for 2014-15 which includes continuing to provide additional funding to critical areas such as special education ($20 million over Ministry funding) and transportation ($5 million over Ministry funding). This plan allows the Board to maintain an in-year surplus for next year of a projected $197K and an accumulated surplus of $5.732M at the end of its fiscal year 2014-15. www.tcdsb.org/Board/TrusteesoftheBoard/boardmeeting/AgendasDocs/June%2016,%202014/Budget%20estimate%2014=15.pdf. Trustees also approved the following amendments relating the budget:
o A reduction to the Trustee Admin Assistant Budget of $2,000 per trustee. NOTE: As trustee for ward 9 I have spent $0 since my election in 2010 on an administrative assistant.
o A reduction of the annual Trustee Expense budget by $780 per trustee. NOTE: As trustee I have never submitted a personal expense – my TCDSB Blackberry is paid by the Board.
o Reduction of the assessment dep’t by one staff member through attrition or internal transfer.
o Allocation for an Ombudsman will be reinserted into the 2014-2015 budget year.
• Admission & Placement Policies: The Board received a report highlighting the input received during the recent consultation on the draft policies which are based on the staff recommendation to create boundaries for every school in the Board. The Board has deferred the discussion to September to provide trustees an opportunity to more fully consider all the input received.
• OAPCE – 75 Years: TCDSB presented a certificate to acknowledge the 75th anniversary of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education. At the Board meeting I congratulated the organization for “ensuring a strong provincial Catholic voice for the parents in our schools on a wide variety of issues that impact on the lives of students and their families.”
• Partnership Development Department Progress Report: TCDSB partnership development initiatives are led by the Partnership Development Department. Its quarterly report detailed information for activities conducted from September 2012 – March 2014, which generated revenues (cash, in kind and discount activities) totalling $5,739,229.
• TCDSB Energy Management Plan: Check out our plan – 11% energy reduction target – at http://www.tcdsb.org/Board/TrusteesoftheBoard/Committees/AgendaDocs/Corporate%20Affairs/June%205%202014/Energy%20Management%20Plan.pdf. Individual building energy use data will be collected annually and compared to the 2012-13 baseline consumption rates to measure energy savings and this data will be posted on the board’s website.