May 2015 Update – Including 4-page Insert, ‘From Deficit Discovery to Deficit Recovery’

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Dear Catholic School Students, Parents & Supporters,

Here is my May, 2015 Community Update, which includes my 4-page “Budget Cuts:  Deficit Discovery to Deficit Recovery” which I urge you to read.

As always, feel free to call (416-514-3409) or write (jo-ann.davis(@)tcdsb.org) should you have any questions or comments.

Below are highlights from the Community Update of non-budget-related advocacy, initiatives and board work since my last ward-wide community update in December. 

Advocacy & Initiatives – Since my December, 2014 Newsletter
• After 4 years of advocating for enhanced programming for our ward to level the student learning opportunities with other parts of the city, the following has been rolled out – and work continues!:
o Full-time Congregated Gifted program for grades 6 to 8 at St. Francis of Assisi School.
o French Immersion for JK/SK (ELP) – expanding by 1 grade every year – at Holy Rosary School.

I was elected by my fellow trustees to the City of Toronto – School Boards Committee. A critical team for our community of schools as the City’s current ‘Comprehensive to the Core’ initiative covers the geographic area of our ward and will likely make recommendations on our shared public spaces.

Improving the enrollment process for over-subscribed schools: Bringing the feedback of parents in our ward, trustees approved my motion at the April, 2015 board meeting for staff to come back with a report to look at pros and cons and provide a jurisdictional comparison of using a lottery rather than a time/stamp enrollment process for enrollment.

Board Highlights – Since my December, 2014, Newsletter

OECTA (Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association) Strike Vote: While unsettling to students and parents, the holding of a strike vote to authorize job action by union members is a normal part of the collective bargaining process. The Board has received no indication that OECTA is planning to engage in similar job action to what is happening in some GTA public school boards. We are hopeful that the Minister of Education will be able to reach agreement with OECTA at the central negotiation table. We will of course be monitoring developments closely and continue to keep parents and students informed. All information regarding any developments affecting our schools will be fully communicated to the TCDSB community, and posted on the Board website at www.tcdsb.org.

TCDSB launches new 3-Year Pastoral Plan: On April 22, we launched our new Pastoral Plan, ‘Together with One Voice – Harmonizing our Faith through Family, Parish and School’, which celebrates the 3-way partnership upon which founding orders of nuns and priests built our Catholic system.

May 4 to 8, 2015 was Catholic Education Week. This year’s theme was ‘Exploring Paths of Joy’. Community events took place in schools all week!

NEW Approved Board policieshttps://www.tcdsb.org/Board/Policies/Pages/Default.aspx :
o CSPC (Catholic School Parent Council) – formerly known as CSAC Policy – which saw many of the amendments requested by parents, raised as amendment and approved by trustees.
o Food & Beverages Policy – my amendments included encouraging the board to purchase products that don’t mistreat animals, are non-genetically modified, and Fair Trade products.
o Harassment and Discrimination Policy and the Respectful Workplace Guidelines.

New Ministry Health & Physical Education curriculum & TCDSB Fully Alive: The Institute for Catholic Education is currently reviewing the new Health & Physical Education Curriculum and will be revising the Fully Alive course in a way which responds to the Ministry changes, but is in keeping with our faith. The Fully Alive course Fully Alive course is sponsored by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. This work is expected to be completed for roll-out to our schools in September, and in the meantime, teachers are continuing to teach the current Fully Alive curriculum.

TCDSB Celebrates Student Success – Graduation Rates Continue to Climb: 86% of the board’s 2009 – 2010 grade 9 cohort graduated within five years of starting secondary school which is above the provincial average of 84%.

UNDERWAY – 2 Accommodation Review Committees (ARCs) in Ward 9:
St Bruno/St Raymond & Senhor Santo Cristo/St Luke Catholic Schools

One of our 6 board priorities is responsive and responsible stewardship and allocation of resources. In addition, Ministry of Education funding policies are incenting school boards to balance school enrollments and increase the effective use of existing school spaces.

The operating cost of schools with low enrollment is greater on a per pupil basis than that of larger schools. 104 of 169 TCDSB elementary schools are defined as ‘small’ – meaning they have less than 200 students or less than 50% of the school is being used by students – and the funding which we receive per student from the Ministry does not cover program and facilities-related costs for these schools. This creates a budget shortfall of $25 million a year.

The remaining 65 TCDSB elementary schools generate, by their enrollment, about $16 million over their operating costs, but this is still $9 million less than the funding shortfall. In support of consolidating small schools, the government has established a new, 4-year, $750 million School Consolidation Capital program. The money will be allocated on a business-case basis for projects requiring capital coming out of the School Accommodation Reviews.

At its Corporate Affairs meeting on January 22, 2015, trustees approved the initiation of Accommodation Review Committees (board’s policy S.09 on School Accommodation Review in three areas across the board. St Bruno / St Raymond and Senhor Santo Cristo / St Luke are 2 of the 3 current ARCs underway. No other Ward 9 schools are included in planned future reviews in Phase 2 or Phase 3.

ARCs have been created locally for each of the two groups of Ward 9 schools and public meetings are underway: parents/guardians (3 from each school), (non-voting) students (1 from each school), school staff (3 from each school), trustees (Trustees Davis & D’Amico), Board officials (Superintendent Saraco), school parishes (pastors) and community (local City Councillor). In leading the public review process, the mandate of the ARC will be to study, report and make recommendations on accommodation options regarding the schools under review. It is not expected that the reports will be completed by the committees before this fall.

St. Luke & Senhor Santo Cristo Schools – remaining public meeting at 7pm: June 10, 2015, St Luke.
St. Bruno & St. Raymond Schools – remaining public meetings at 7pm: June 16 and June 29, 2015, St Raymond.

For all the public information available: TCDSB School Accommodation Review Committees Underway

A Portuguese interpreter is in attendance at all public meetings.

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