February 2017 Community Update

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The full February, 2017, community update can be found here.

Below are highlights from the community update –

Annual Ward-Wide Leadership Meeting

Thank you to the principals, parent council Chairs and pastors who attended this year’s ward-wide leadership meeting at Holy Rosary School.

The evening began with Msgr. Nusca celebrating Mass at Holy Rosary church. Following a short reception, Harry McAvoy from ShareLife gave a presentation highlighting the great work of Silent Voice and made an appeal for more TCDSB schools to participate in ShareLife.

The open roundtable discussion focused on critical two topics:

  • the parish-school-family relationship and examples from across the ward of how to enhance this, and
  • the impact to students and staff of the budget cuts made thus far in order to provide local input in preparation for the coming board budget decisions.

Getting Local Input for 2017 – 2018 Budget Discussions

I had hoped to be able to outline options provided by staff for the coming Year 3 of our four-year budget recovery plan – a result of an annual cut of 0.8% in our Grants for Student Needs (GSN) or an estimated $8 million annually.  While those have not yet been provided, I have already begun to get local input for the coming budget discussions.  For instance, I focused much of last month’s ward-wide meeting on taking time to hear from Principals and parent council Chairs, on the impact of the cuts made thus far on our students and staff. 

I heard about the real impact to both staff and students as a result of cuts to schools supports, including Child Youth Workers and Social Workers.  At Board, I will be asking staff to provide options that result in a balanced budget without cutting these essential and already lean supports.  I will also be asking questions about:

  • Professional development for staff who are supporting and teaching students who have lived through trauma
  • Learning Disabled ISP programs
  • Inter-Ministry mental health support
  • The current government ratio of 30:1, teacher to student, for Early Learning (JK/SK).

Congratulations to the St Raymond cardboard boat race team of Michael, Samantha, Jaden and Vincenzo and their coach Mr. Faraday.  After being the top TCDSB team, the team placed first at regionals in January and are now onto compete at provincials in Waterloo. Good luck!

Update – Recommended Consolidation of St Michael & St Paul

Catholic Schools on former Duke of York Site

On January 26, 2017, an Interim Staff report was considered by the Board of Trustees. The Board approved my change to the staff recommendation – to wait until approval of funding for a new school on the former Duke of York site before any action being taken.  It is a change which honours our commitment to the two school communities at the December public meeting and echoes the input provided by those parent delegates who presented at the Special Board meeting in January.  The recommendation which will be voted on by trustees at the February 23, 2017 meeting of the Board now reads as follows: “After APPROVAL of a business case to the Ministry of Education, requesting a 500 pupil place replacement school on the Duke of York site, St. Michael be consolidated at St. Paul no earlier than September 2017.  St Paul will act as a temporary consolidated school until such time as the students are able to be accommodated at the new school on the Duke of York site.”

Updates can be found here. We look forward to working with the school communities to find solutions to create better learning environments for all students.

Update – Construction of New School for St Bruno / St Raymond Communities

The anticipated opening date for the new school is September 2020.  Construction of the new school requires the demolition of the existing school on the St Raymond school site and the temporary relocation of students to St. Bruno.  The anticipated start for demolition of the existing building is no later than September 2017.

As I outlined to both parent councils at their most recent meetings, senior staff are working with the local principals to put together a local Transition Team with staff and parents from the two school communities to begin transition planning.

Updates will continue to be provided to the school communities as soon as they become available.


Expansion of French Immersion in 2018 –St Alphonsus & St Mary elementary schools

It’s been a long road, but after advocating around the board of trustee table for the past 7 years, we are seeing tangible evidence of an investment by the board in programming in our downtown schools.

The latest is that trustees have approved bringing French Immersion to two more Ward 9 schools:  French Immersion will be expanding to St Alphonsus and St Mary elementary schools in September 2018.

French Immersion will begin with JK/SK in September, 2018, and move up one grade every year following.

Senior staff will be working with the local principal to ensure sustainable school communities with both English and FI classrooms.

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