March 2019 Newsletter
Joint Ward Forum on Thursday, March 21
At our Joint Ward Forum (with Trustees Harpreet Gill, Dan Maclean, Chris Tonks & Myself), you will be presented with an overview of our budget process and each of our proposed Budget Drivers by Associate Director Craig Snider. Hard copies of the 2019-20 Budget Public Discussion Guide and Community Survey will be available for you to provide us with your valued input (https://surveys.tdsb.on.ca/index.php?r=survey/index&sid=647773&lang=en).
Information collected from the Ward Forums and the survey will be used in the final Strategic Driver document that will go to the Board for approval in April. As noted, these drivers will then be used by staff to create a draft Operating Budget when the funding is known, which will be presented to the Board in May. Once we have developed our “draft” Operating Budget, you will have another opportunity to provide additional comments by making a presentation to our Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee - Delegations Process – or you can submit your comments online to our General Inquiries email address at GeneralInquiries@TDSB.on.ca. After feedback has been received from the public, a final draft of the Operating Budget will be developed by staff and go to the Board for approval in June.
On the TDSB public website, you will find a webpage – 2019-20-Budget Webpage – dedicated to providing you with additional information including a number of financial documents.
About 94% of the TDSB’s funding comes from the Ministry of Education. The other 6% represents such things as visa students, bank interest, cafeteria sales, leasing revenue and permits.
Please note that the TDSB has a $3.9 billion backlog of school repairs. While taking those repairs is a key priority for the TDSB, the repairs are part of our Capital Budget, not the Operating Budget. That is why the backlog does not appear in the Operating Budget Drivers.
Memo From the Deputy Minister to Directors
At the beginning of March, our director of education received a communication from Deputy Minister of Education regarding our preparations for the 2019-2020 school year.
The communication recommended that in light of the upcoming provincial budget and the provincial consultations on class size and hiring practices, schools boards should “exercise prudence” in making hiring decisions.
In the coming weeks, the government will be reviewing the feedback received from the consultations and will continue to engage boards and labour partners on any plans and next steps.
By March 15, the Minister of Education will provide an update to the education sector and, until that update, boards are advised to defer the annual process of filling vacancies for retirements and other leaves. She also suggested that school boards may wish follow the government’s lead of a hiring freeze in the Ontario public service and institute similar measures.
The Board will not deal with the school based staffing allocation until after March break in anticipation of additional information coming from the Ministry. We have contractual obligations with employee groups so we are hopeful that there will be greater clarity by March 15. We are committed to providing greater and more equitable access to school programs and learning opportunities for students. Any reduction in provincial funding will negatively impact our capacity to meet this commitment. The TDSB will soon begin its formal consultation with the community to gain their input into on broad areas of our programs and services that will drive our spending priorities. At this point, we have no information from the Ministry of Education on our funding levels for the upcoming school year. Once we receive this information we can begin more detailed discussions of the implications for the 2019-20 budget.
Interested in Before and After School Programing?
Students can enroll in the Extended Day Program at the school where they are registered as a pupil. Registration for the EDP is completed through a secure online registration system (e-Reg). Families will enter required information about their child, as well as contact information for parents/guardians. A one-time non-refundable registration fee of $50 will be required at the time of registration ($75 for 2 children or $100 for 3 or more children). This fee may be waived for families receiving child care fee subsidies.
Parents, students, educators, and community members are invited to come to celebrate with us! Join us on Saturday, March 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greek Community of Toronto, 30 Thorncliffe Park Drive for the Opening Celebration.
And on Saturday, March 30 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the Closing Event at East York CI, 650 Cosburn Avenue.
Both of these events will feature music, dance, art, food, cultural displays and special presentations from TDSB elementary and secondary student and community members.
International Women’s Day - March 8
In recognition of International Women’s Day 2019, the TDSB is bringing together learners who identify as girls at an event to expand existing learning opportunities, chart new pathways and take an inward look. This year’s IWD theme, #BalanceforBetter will be discussed in a keynote by Olympic Medalist Shelley-Ann Brown who will share her story of channeling her inner power. A number of other events will be held locally.
A luncheon will be held at the Mimico Cruising Club with special guest speaker Cherilyn Scobie Edwards, a centrally assigned Principal for the Toronto District School Board. Doors open at noon. Celebrating the women of today in hopes of inspiring the women of tomorrow.
Norseman Heights Park Playground enhancement project
Join us to discuss the enhancement project for Norseman Heights Park on March 26 at Fairfield seniors centre 6:30 pm.
TRAFFIC NOTICE FOR PICKUP & DROP OFF
We understand how busy traffic can get during pickup and drop off times around our schools. In the rush to get your kids to school please remember the rules of the road including parking restrictions on the surrounding streets. If your school has a kiss & ride or traffic plan for pickup and drop off please follow it. It is especially important to be mindful of blocking driveways. The residents of our community greatly appreciate this.
Court Dismisses Charter Challenge to Sex-Ed Curriculum Change
On February 28, 2019, the Ontario Divisional Court dismissed the challenges brought by ETFO and other parties who alleged the recent changes to the sex-ed curriculum violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ freedom of expression, right to life, liberty, and security, and equality rights. The Court determined that teachers had the freedom to teach the additional topics covered in the 2015 curriculum (e.g., consent, cyber bullying, sexual identity, etc.) as long as the 2010 curriculum learning objectives were met. The Court added that the legislative and Ministry policy context, and the curriculum itself, already required teachers to teach the curriculum in an inclusive, diverse, and non-discriminatory manner. A copy of the decision is available online.
The following provides an update on snow removal at the TDSB.
Snow removal at TDSB schools is performed by 3 different parties; snow removal contractors, in-house trades staff and on-site Caretaking staff. Each school has a snow removal map posted in the Caretakers office outlining who performs what work; this map is also available on the TDSBWeb under the Facility Services website - Site/Floor plans section.
Typically, parking lots are plowed by contracted staff and they are called out when there is 5 cm of snow on the ground. This standard matches the standard used by the City of Toronto. In house trades staff will assist site based caretakers and plow snow on long pathways, some public sidewalks and remove excessive snow from school sites as required. In addition, they salt parking lots and driveways when the snowfall is below 5 cm. At some schools, they will also plow the snow from the paved play areas provided the school meets an established criteria as follows:
- Schools with 6 or more portable classrooms
- Schools with students having mobility issues
- Schools with unique geographic features/drainage issues
Addressing Online Safety
Join us on April 1st from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Lakeshore Collegiate or a Workshop on Internet Social Media that will be presented by a Counsellor from Jean Tweed along with a LAMP Health Promoter.
Recently, there have been a number of media reports about an online challenge phenomenon known as Momo. This phenomenon allegedly challenges children through social media messaging apps to carry out dangerous tasks, such as harming themselves or others. This is an important opportunity to remind parents and children about online safety in today’s digital world.
In the TDSB, educators have also been made aware and can provide further classroom support and encourage good digital citizenship. School social workers are also available to provide mental health supports if needed.
Parental awareness and involvement is an important piece too. Being aware of these harmful social media phenomena and explaining them to your child in an age appropriate way is valuable. Keep the dialogue open with your children about their mental health and emotional well-being. Making your home a safe space for these conversations will help ensure your child feels comfortable bringing their questions and concerns forward.
Additionally, the following list can help you keep your children safe while online:
- Make sure the protection features of websites and software your children use are activated. There are tools available through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to help you manage your children's online experience (i.e. appropriate Websites, amount of time spent online, who can and cannot contact them). It might also include other security features, such as pop-up ad blockers.
Get to know the online environments your children use and teach them how to deal with inappropriate material.
Keep an eye on the sites they visit by keeping the computer in a common area like the kitchen.
Talk to them about the implications of posting inappropriate pictures, saying disparaging things about other people and anything else that could damage a reputation or ruin a friendship.
Remind them that the Internet is a public space. Things they do and say now on social networking sites could have implications down the road when they're looking for summer employment (employers often search personal profiles for information about candidates).
If your child is using live text and voice chats for online games, warn them not to give personal information to a stranger.
TDSB Earth Hour 2019
On Friday, March 29, schools across the TDSB are recognizing Earth Hour from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Schools are asked to reduce their electricity usage for one hour.
During Earth Hour, our school will be using as little electricity as possible in the office, halls, classrooms, library, gym, cafeteria. Where possible, schools will also be reducing their electricity usage over the weekend.
More information is available on the EcoSchools website.
FoodShare is a non-profit organization that works with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and food education so that everyone can have access to quality fresh food that is affordable. The innovative programs impacts what kids eat in school.
FoodShare’s 10th Annual Fundraising Gala, Recipe for Change, was held recently and featured dozens of restaurants, chocolatiers, local wineries and more. This year, FoodShare showcased talented female chefs of colour. The best chefs from around the greater Toronto area served up delicacies with fresh organic ingredients.
Alongside the GTA master chefs were West Hill’s Chef and Culinary teacher Mario Paz and students Taija and Allison. The West Hill culinary students created two types of Tostadas using organic herbs and vegetables freshly picked from the school’s indoor garden towers.
It wasn’t long before Chef/Teacher Mario Paz and student chefs Taija and Allison realized they had a hit as people lined up to taste their delicious Tostadas and then returned for more. They heard comments like ‘wow, these are amazing’, ‘this food is so tasty’, ‘can I have another’, ‘I brought my friend over because I love your Tostadas.
As the only secondary school invited to participate in this great event, Taija and Allison were proud to take part in such a worthy cause and feel good to know that the funds raised at Recipe for Change will go to support over 250,000 Torontonians.
FoodShare’s Executive Director Paul Taylor was so thrilled about the excitement generated at West Hill’s table, that he came over to meet the young chefs and pose for a photo.
“Into Orbit” is the theme for this year’s FIRST competitions, in which teams are tasked with identifying and solving a problem related to space exploration. Four of the eighteen squads participating at the OIC will have an opportunity to apply to represent Ontario at the Global Innovation Award in San Jose, California this summer, and a chance to win $20,000 to support development of their project.
The team from Glen Ames PS, dubbed the Guardians of the Galaxsee, have already qualified for another international competition after taking the Second Place Champions Award in Oshawa. The team will participate at the US Open Championship in Carlsbad, California in May. It will be third consecutive year, and the fifth time overall, that the Beach-area school will be representing Canada on the world stage. “I was blown away when I realized that,” said proud Glen Ames teacher and coach Luke Martin.
The Guardians’ project this year focuses on creating an autonomous robot to capture key moments from home and then send these memories to space for an astronaut to enjoy in Virtual Reality. “This would help with the mental wellness of astronauts,” explained Martin, adding that the idea is already being explored for other fields such as the military. Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk called the project innovative. He said that the “Home Away From Home solution including 360 videos recorded by family members will certainly help the deep space astronauts feel more connected with loved ones.”
Sixteen TDSB robotics teams competed at the Ontario East Provincial Championship in Oshawa. In addition to the Second Place Champions Award for Glen Ames, the Clinton Street PS Cyber Cougars and the Runnymede PS Cyberbolts won the Research Award and Teamwork Award, respectively.
For the teams advancing to the OIC, the season has already been a huge success, no matter what happens next. “Each year you start over with a new group of talented students who all have skills individually,” said Martin. “Watching them grow as a team is the most amazing aspect of the FIRST experience.”
That process has been a life-changing one for the students on the Clinton Street Cyber Cougars team, according to coaches Stephanie Guay, Ashley Weger, and Angel Wu. “Through our ups and downs, our successes and challenges, we have seen our kids grow so much in such a short time. The degree to which they reflect on their strengths, areas to improve and ways to share their experiences with others is nothing short of amazing.”
For coach Paul Offor from Armour Heights PS, robotics brings together “math, science, technology, art, language, history, geography, the future and the past.” It gives students on the Armourites robotics team an opportunity to turn into leaders, said Offor. “The passions run so deep, that former team members are present mentors and volunteers.”
Culture shift happens over time with small learning moves. Studies have shown that students’ sense of belonging, engagement and achievement improve when parents play an active role in their children's education. Schools get better when parents are actively involved. At John A. Leslie Public School, staff have been intentionally focused on creating more spaces to provide opportunities for parents to exercise their voice and contribute to school improvement.
As lead learner, Principal Sara Gogani’s professional learning goal is to identify barriers to student and parent engagement in order to determine specific actions needed to further develop an accepting school culture of inclusionary practice.
This shift in thinking about parents as true partners at John A. Leslie is happening in small moves. In 2017, in collaboration with the Community Support Worker and School Council, the school collected data from parents about their interests and how they would like to contribute to students’ well-being and success.
That is when Roy Dantas, a parent at John A. Leslie, approached the school with a great idea. He offered to partner up with a teacher and provide a group of students with an opportunity to develop hands-on problem solving skills. Brad Parolin, a grade 5/6 teacher, quickly recognized that Roy’s passion and expertise in the engineering and design process could have a significant impact on students so the two collaborated on creating an after school Robotics Club.
The club which runs once a week after school with predominantly female students has enabled students, staff and parents to see the value of hands-on learning in a relaxed environment where students feel comfortable to take risks and see the benefits of collaboration and perseverance.
“We love the Robotics Club. Roy got us these new kits and it’s good that Mr. Parolin has help so both of them get to experiment with us and help us when we get stuck” says grade 4 student Rafeeya Tasnim,
“In the past, I didn’t believe how much my involvement could impact my own thinking about our school and how one hour a week could impact a group of kids’ learning experience. These kids are growing to think like engineers. None of this could have happened without the welcoming environment of Mr. Parolin. We had to have a good connection and relationship for this to work. Kids see it and feel it, when there is an equal amount of excitement from the teacher” remarks Roy Dantas, John A. Leslie parent.
Effective and sustainable parent involvement requires intentional effort by various staff. Teacher Brad Parolin expresses “It’s great to have a parent share their expertise with students. The kids get excited to see their parents problem solving and helping.”
There’s also Naghma Ershad who recently immigrated to Canada and is passionate about instilling love for reading and supporting the Bengali community. Her involvement includes supporting the school’s goal of early years reading strategies with identified students, as well as providing translation for some of the families.
“I had a great schooling experience because my teachers taught me to say what is on my mind, to say the truth and to stand up for myself and others. I felt empowered especially, as a girl and that’s what I want to see in my daughter. I think all parents should get involved in the school even if it’s for 15 minutes. Parents need to realize that they share in the responsibility of their children’s schooling. Language should not be a barrier, especially at John A. Leslie where so many different languages are spoken” says John A. Leslie parent Naghma Ershad.
At John A. Leslie, staff recognize the importance of small moves to create new spaces for students and parents to make the school more accepting and inclusive of all voices.
High Water Levels Brings Increased Risks
The Toronto and Region Conservation monitors hazardous ice conditions as thaw begins and are reminding everyone to be very careful around all bodies of water. The first hint of warming weather and the promise of spring thaw can bring extreme danger to the shores and surfaces of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, according to Toronto and Region Conservation.
As warmer temperatures arrive, stream banks become increasingly slippery and unstable. Lake and river ice weakens, becoming thinner or with higher flows breaking with little or no warning. During this time, the potential for flooding and ice jamming is high.
Higher, faster-flowing water and extreme cold temperatures combine to create increased dangers on or near rivers, streams and ponds for people wishing to enjoy the seasonal changes. Parents and caregivers are being asked to keep children away from stream banks, ponds and lakes.
Parents as Partners Conference 2019
This all-inclusive conference is organized by TDSB parents for TDSB parents, guardians and caregivers. Participate in workshops, network with parents and community agencies and learn new strategies to support your child’s success.
Registration opens mid-February. Register early as there is limited space in each workshop.
When: Saturday, March 30
Where: Beanfield Centre (formerly named Allstream Centre) 105 Princes' Blvd, Toronto
Each year, TDSB Trustees and staff work together to pass a balanced budget that best supports the achievement and well-being of all students. The TDSB’s annual operating budget is approximately $3.4 billion and we are committed to using these resources responsibly and effectively.
Key discussions regarding the annual budget are scheduled for our Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (FBEC). Below you will find links to the proposed Committee Schedule, Timelines and Milestones. FBEC’s budget meetings are open to the public and take place in the Toronto District School Board Boardroom. Please note that these budget discussions will be videotaped and posted to our public website for those who may not be able to attend meetings in person but wish to review those meetings. We will be posting a link to those recorded meetings following the first meeting on Wednesday, January 23rd.
Learn more about the TDSB’s 2019-20 Operating Budget:
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