This Earth Hour, millions around the world will be turning off the lights and speaking up why nature matters. Join TDSB schools and offices as we celebrate Earth Hour by turning off unnecessary lights and unplugging electronic devices on Friday, March 29th, from 2 to 3 p.m. Additionally, families and community members can participate on Saturday, March 30th, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Consider registering your actions or event at the Global Earth Hour website.
In 2011, we saw our highest reduction in energy usage (29.9%.) at schools and offices. In 2017, we came close to our best ever reduction in energy use at 28%. Can we improve upon that reduction this year? For more information and resources, please click here.
2019-20 Staffing - What Does it Mean?
In my last week’s update
, I tried to summarize staff’s early analysis on the Ministry of Education’s announcements of March 15th – Staff confirm that these announcements to date result in a loss of more than $28 million for the Toronto District School Board’s 2019-20 budget.
Please remember – this is before we actually get the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) which we expected following the Provincial Budget on April 11.
Our Collective Agreements require us to declare school based (site) surplus in early April. As a result, the first stage of staff allocation
was approved by the Board on March 20 – it is school-based classroom allocations that are dependent on the Ministry of Education’s class size directives and collective agreement provisions.
What does that mean for Elementary Staffing in schools?
Although the class caps and averages are not changing for Kindergarten or Grades 1-3, the ministry has determined that Grade 4 to 8 class averages will move to a 24.5 ratio and are funding boards as such. Our collective agreement states that Grade 4 to 8 class average must be 23.24. If we were to move to the class average determined by the province that would mean 216 fewer teachers. As a result, we cannot implement the Grade 4-8 class size average of 24.5 even though funding is provided for this average. Keeping these 216 teachers means that we will have a $9.6 million shortfall in the coming budget year. The Director has confirmed for the Board that staff continue to work with the ministry to help them understand this situation and to advocate for funding to deal with the shortfall.
Regular Program Elementary teachers (K-8) have increased by 114 as a result of small enrolment increases as well as greater numbers of students with Special Education needs being included in regular classrooms. There is however, a reduction of 49.5 Special Education teachers, mostly due to the government ending the Local Priorities Grant which funded additional positions in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The number of Dedicated Early Childhood Educators has also gone up slightly.
What does this mean for Secondary Staffing in schools?
It was also announced that the secondary school class size average will increase from 22 students to 28 over the next four years. Under the government’s new class-size plan we can project the loss of 800 high school level teachers over the next four years. As the Director clearly stated at the Board meeting, the secondary multi-year phase-in should not mask the magnitude of change that a reduction of 800 secondary teachers presents.
In order to not layoff any “front line” teachers, the ministry is providing transitional funding for the difference in class size benchmarks and the actual retirements and resignations they experience during this period. Based on the average TDSB attrition rates, the projected class average 2019-20 is 23.6. This means a reduction of 177.5 regular secondary teachers. In addition, the province has cancelled the top-up funding for additional staffing of 72 teachers that was provided the last number of years. Further, as with elementary, the cancellation of the Local Priorities funding means there are 21 less Special Education teachers. In total, that means 270.5 fewer secondary teachers in classrooms in 2019-20. And that is year one of reductions.
There are significant and far reaching challenges associated with reducing this many teachers in high schools. These include challenges in offering as wide a range of course selections to students, challenges with growing class sizes, impact on students, and challenges with meeting collective agreement class caps. In the words of the Director, “in short, a reduction of 800 teachers represents an order of magnitude that is unprecedented.” The manner in which this unfolds will vary from school to school. It is not unreasonable to expect that smaller schools, schools with multiple programming tracks and schools with very mixed offerings of programming will see greater challenges. Staff is in the process of developing proposals to ensure that students continue to have access to a variety of programming options. But most significantly, fewer teachers mean fewer opportunities for students to build relationships… and this is very concerning given the TDSB’s 2017 Student Census data that revealed fewer kids in Grades 7 to 12 enjoy school, feel a sense of belonging and a connection with their teachers.
In addition at the Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to ask the Chair to write urgently to the Minister of Education to express the Board’s deep concern with the cuts to program funding and teaching positions being proposed by her government, and to call on her to reconsider in light of the certain negative impacts on student achievement, equity and well-being in our schools, and on the Board’s ability to fulfill its commitments made to students, parents and all stakeholders in the Multi-Year Strategic Plan; and that the Chair express the concern at Part (b), in relation to the Board’s most recent student census data; and finally, that the letter be shared with all school boards in Ontario, and the Toronto and education media.
Together we have a window to try and help the government understand the implications of removing so many secondary teachers from our schools. The government is undertaking a further consultation on class size and teacher hiring practices “to allow stakeholders, including education sector labour partners, to provide the benefit of their expertise, experience, and ideas.” This window is open until May 31, 2019.
Although students and parents have not been asked to complete the consultation, I would argue that nothing stops you from voicing your opinions. Here are the links to access the two guides for the consultation process:
Class size: https://efis.fma.csc.gov.on.ca/faab/Memos/B2019/B09_attach1_EN.pdf
Hiring Practices: https://efis.fma.csc.gov.on.ca/faab/Memos/B2019/B09_attach2_EN.pdf
TDSB Committees This Week
Governance and Policy Committee - Tuesday, March 26, 2019 4:30 p.m. Boardroom, 1st Floor, 5050 Yonge Street
5. Integrity Commissioner Comments in Response to the February 6, 2019 Board Decision re: PR533, Election Activities and Use of Board Resources
- After having consulted with TDSB staff, it is my position that to reconcile the rule contained in PR533, section 6.1.1(k) with rules 6.4 and 6.5 of the Code, PR533 section 6.1.1(k) should be amended as follows:
Trustees will not use the Board’s email/voice mail system, including distribution lists, to record,
distribute or disseminate election activity messages or correspondence. Trustees will not use any distribution list or email address obtained when carrying out Official Business of the Trustee Office for election activity purposes.
6. Restrictions on Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Use Policy: New Policy, Phase 5
- The proposed Restrictions on Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco Use Policy (the “Policy”) was developed in response to the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018 and the new legislative requirements as outlined in Ontario’s Cannabis Act with regard to use, purchase, possession, cultivation and distribution of recreational cannabis in Ontario.
7. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy: New Policy, Phase 5
8. P060, Home Instruction Policy, Phase 5
- On June 21, 2017, upon recommendation of the Governance and Policy Committee, the Board of Trustees approved a work plan for the review of the Home Instruction Policy (P060) (the “Policy”).
9. P012, Budget Approval Policy Review, Phase 1
- The proposed revisions to the Policy as outlined in the Policy Review Work Plan (see Appendix B) are based on the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, principles of the Equity Policy (P037), operational requirements, scan of other school board policies (see Appendix C), as well as the legislative requirements, including, Ontario Regulation 361/10 under the Education Act
10. Written Notice of Motion
10.1 Clarification of Governance Procedure, PR718, Delegation Procedure
(Trustees Donaldson and Moise)
Program and School Services Committee - Wednesday, March 27, 4:30 p.m. Committee Room A, 5050 Yonge Street
5. Opportunity for Oral Updates From Co-Chairs of Community Advisory Committees
6. Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- While this announcement is under the purview of MCYCS and the announced funding neither flows directly to education, nor do boards provide the services these funds are intended to purchase, we recognize the potential impact as students transition from clinical therapy to schools. While we cannot make up for the loss and/or changes to clinical/therapeutic services provided in the community, we are committed to supporting students, families, and staff during this transition and beyond in schools throughout the TDSB... While each student transition will be considered individually, we do anticipate the potential need for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to support individual students in particular circumstances. Such needs will be revealed through each transition process in collaboration with the family, school, and treatment centre.
7. Life Promotion/Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Protocol
- The Life Promotion/Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Protocol is a resource document that will be available to all staff to support students. Included will be a flow chart to guide immediate Principal decision making in three distinct areas: suicidal ideation, third party disclosure and a suicide attempt. Contacting the school Social Worker for support is a mandatory part of the protocol.
8. Early Years Community Advisory Committee: Indigenous Cultural Competency Training and Resources
- The feasibility of this recommendation was explored with staff of the Urban Indigenous Education Centre (UIEC), and currently, due to limited resources, UIEC staff are not able to provide the requested training.
9. Annual Indigenous Education Update
- Indigenous Education has been highlighted as one of the eight proposed strategic drivers that will assist the Board of Trustees to develop the 2019/20 operating budget. This is an important step in ensuring that budget funding decisions support Indigenous Education in TDSB. UIEC staff will continue to work collaboratively with TDSB central departments (e.g., Teaching & Learning, Professional Support Services, Employee Services, etc.) and Indigenous community partners to provide supports and develop enhanced learning opportunities for Indigenous students across the system.
“Enhancements” to Autism Program
Since the ministry announcement in February, there has been an almost universal condemnation, led by parents of children on the autism spectrum, against changes to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). On Thursday, Minister MacLeod from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services announced updates/changes to the previously announced Autism program. To read the announcement, please click here
. Our staff understanding of these changes to the program include:
- Removing Income Testing: All families of children and youth under the age of 18 with a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional will now be eligible, no matter their income, to receive $20,000 annually in direct funding, while those six and over will receive $5,000 annually.
- Expanding Eligible Services to Include OT/PT and SLP: Families will be able to spend this direct funding on further clinical/therapeutic services such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Pathology.
- Extending Current Therapy for a Further 6 Months: All students currently receiving clinical services will continue to be funded to their established demission date. They will then be eligible for funding for a further 6 months beyond that date.
The anticipated impact of the announcement on schools, based on the information staff have is
- Students who are currently engaged in the transition process from therapy to school will continue. They have completed their clinical program and are currently transitioning.
- Students who would have been transitioning and/or registering with us in April, May, or June will be eligible to remain in therapy until the end of October, November, or December respectively so we will transition them in the fall.
- Families who have initiated the transition to school process may still decide to continue to do so, despite the Ministry’s announcement, and we are prepared to support their transition and welcome them to school.
Staff remain in close contact with Surrey Place, our coordinating service provider for Autism services, and will collaborate with all partners and families to support all students and welcome them into our schools in TDSB. As noted above, there is a Report coming to Program and School Services Wednesday - Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Please note that those directly affected do not believe these "enhancement" are enough. The Ontario Autism Coalition (@OntAutism) has tweeted "We're hopeful that @MacLeodLisa is serious about meaningful consultation on the Ontario Autism Program. We strongly recommend that she begin by reconvening the Clinical Expert Panel and the OAP Implementation Committees, who have studied autism policy in depth for years." And if you have the time, please read this article - Life on autism spectrum a mystery to most
by Joel Rubinoff.
Still Waiting for Answers... Focus on Youth
On January 18, 2019, Chair Robin Pilkey wrote to Education Minister Lisa Thompson regarding the Community Use of Schools grant reduction and the concern we haven't heard yet about funding for the summer Focus on Youth Program.
The Board agreed to cover the Community Use of Schools grand shortfall through to the end of the year given the importance of this grant to the city’s priority neighborhoods. In total, the province cancelled grants for a number of programs specifically geared to serve at-risk communities and at-risk young people totalling a $1.7 million cut in funding for programs, most of which would benefit our poorest and most disadvantaged communities and young people. We are concerned about whether or not Community Use of Schools will be included in the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) for 2019-2020.
Last year, funding for the Focus on Youth summer program allowed the TDSB to hire and train more than 600 youth to work alongside community agencies that serve some of the city’s most at-risk and vulnerable young people. Last year over 11,000 young people took part in these programs.
As the Chair stated: Since its inception, the Summer Focus on Youth Program has sought to respond to the higher rates of youth violence, linked to poverty and a general lack of opportunities for many youth. Surely, young people would get more out of programs that encourage and promote physical fitness, help develop critical life-skills, and provide safe spaces for youngsters to be active and engaged than the cover provided from youth gangs. Surely, our youth are better served playing sports and games after school in our school gyms than they are in the streets. Surely, if we can reintroduce high school to students who have dropped out and help them get their final credits to earn their diploma, we know the significant difference that would make to their future.
I ask you to take a second look at the benefits and outcomes of these programs and I ask you to reinstate funding for programs where funding was cut and to confirm the province’s investment in the Summer Focus on Youth Program as soon as possible.
We are still waiting.
From the TDSB Website - We Want to Hear From You - The objective of consultation is to gather public input regarding options, alternative courses of action, as well as to identify unintended effects for various participants and to find solutions. We would like to know your thoughts about our policy decisions by inviting you to our policy consultations. Please click on the policy of your interest to see the current draft. You are welcome to provide your comments, including suggestions on the wording and provisions of the draft policies, questions or recommendations using the contact information below.
Caring and Safe Schools Policy (P051) - Closes March 31, 2019
Objective: To ensure that all students feel that they belong, are heard, accepted, safe, supported and cared for through the creation of positive school climates that reflect themselves, value their voices and foster a culture of mutual respect and healthy relationships; and to enhance and maintain working and learning environments that embed principles of equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism, acceptance and inclusion in procedures, practices and programs that support the safety, dignity, health and well-being of all. Draft Policy
- Share your feedback using the survey here: Survey Link
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Opinion Counts
Student success drives everything we do in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Every student deserves a great education and student well-being and learning must be at the centre of every decision we make.
We are asking parents/caregivers, students, staff and community members to complete our Budget Survey so we can use your opinions to confirm the budget drivers
that will be used to develop this year’s Operating Budget in alignment with our Multi-Year Strategic Plan
More details about the Budget Survey here
. The deadline to respond is Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
Worth Repeating - School Council PD
The TDSB Parent and Community Engagement Office is hosting three webinars coming soon to help parents/guardians learn more about how school councils work, bylaws, and effectiveness. Click on the links below at the specific times to join in.
- Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 7:00 p.m.: School Council Bylaws To be an effective School Council, you need a firm foundation. This webinar will take participants through the writing School Council Bylaws.
- Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 7:00 p.m.: School Council Effectiveness This webinar examines how communication, committees and volunteers will connect with your community and will ease your workload.
School Year Calendar 2018-2019
The official school year calendar for the Toronto District School Board runs from September 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, inclusive.
- The last day of class for elementary students is June 27, 2019
- The last day of class for secondary (full-year) students is June 25, 2019
- The last day of class for secondary (semestered) students is June 26, 2019
2018 - 2019 Dates to Remember: Official Holidays and PA Days
Remaining PA Days & Statutory Holidays
- Good Friday April 19, 2019
- Easter Monday April 22, 2019
- Victoria Day May 20, 2019
- Elementary School PA Day June 7, 2019
- Secondary School PA Day (Full Year Schools only)* June 26, 2019
- Secondary School PA Day June 27, 2019
- Board-wide PA Day June 28, 2019
- Passover 2019 will begin in the evening of Friday, April 19 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 27 (first 2 and last 2 days are considered holy)
- Ramadan 2019 will begin in the evening of Sunday, May 5 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, June 4 (Dates may vary)
- Eid al-Fitr celebrated at the end of Ramadan will begin on Tuesday, June 4
EQAO - The following dates have been established:
- Gr. 9 Math: 2nd Semester: June 5-18, 2019
- OSSLT: March 27, 2019
- Primary/Junior EQAO: May 21-June 3, 2019