TDSB Proudly Celebrates International Day of Pink
April 10 marks International Day of Pink, when Toronto District School Board staff and students wear pink in support of diversity and to raise awareness to stop discrimination, gender-based bullying, homophobia, and transphobia. The Day of Pink is more than just a symbol of a shared belief in celebrating diversity – it’s also a commitment to being open-minded, accepting differences and learning to respect each other.
For more information, please read the TDSB web story.
Mirroring Me: Recognizing My Power
On March 6, 2019, over 300 girls in Grades 7 - 12 gathered for our annual Young Women on the Move event for International Women’s Day. The theme for this year’s event was: Mirroring Me: Recognizing My Power. Each young woman had the opportunity to listen to our guest speaker, Shelley-Ann Brown, Canadian Olympic Medalist, who inspired the girls by sharing her story of channeling her inner power to achieve her goals, and then challenging them to look inward and recognize the power that they each hold to be their best-self.
For more information, please read the TDSB web story.
TDSB Open Data Webpage Provides Transparency to its School Communities
To ensure transparency with its parents, students and communities, the Toronto District School Board has posted its Open Data Webpage on the TDSB public website. The page provides context for why it is posting data for the public to view, a link to the TDSB Open Data Policy, and a list with links to the various types of data already available for public view, including the Director’s Employment Contract, Facilities Condition Index, Renewal Needs Backlog, and Health and Safety Workplace Inspection Reports. Open Data is an ongoing commitment and process. On a regular basis, departments of the Board will be asked to review their data for potential reporting under the TDSB Open Data Policy.
Updates on Public Education Funding, Teacher Reductions
Recently, the Ministry of Education announced upcoming changes to class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 and high schools, and reductions in funding for public education. To keep you well informed, we have created a webpage that will be updated as more information becomes available. Below are some highlights of the changes.
Ministry’s Increases to Class Size Averages & Teacher Job Losses
On March 15, the Ministry of Education announced significant changes regarding funding reductions and increased class sizes. The class size average in Grades 4 to 8 and in high schools is projected to result in more than a thousand teachers (1,000) no longer instructing TDSB students over the next four years. Here is how those increases will impact the elementary and secondary school levels at the TDSB:
Class Size Average Increase and Teacher Job Losses – Elementary
The ministry is increasing the class size average for Grades 4 to 8 to 24.5 students. If our average elementary class size were to change from 23.24 to 24.5 students, it would result in the permanent reduction of 216 elementary teachers at the Toronto District School Board. That reduction in the number of teachers is projected to cost the TDSB a shortfall of approximately $9.6 million in the coming budget year. We continue to work with the ministry to help them understand this situation and to advocate for “gap” funding to deal with the shortfall.
The Toronto District School Board, similar to many other Ontario school boards, has in its collective agreement a class size average that is lower than the province’s new average of 24.5 students. In our collective agreement, the elementary class size average is 23.24. We must honour our collective agreement, and to do so requires us to have 216 more teachers than the number of teachers we would require to meet the Province’s new average of 24.5. By raising the class size average, the government will reduce funding for school boards. The government will achieve reductions in teachers province-wide though attrition. This means that as teachers retire or quit they will not be replaced. Currently our annual attrition rate is around 200, this means that it will take close to 4 years to meet the recently introduced funding reductions.
Class Size Average Increase and Teacher Job Losses – Secondary
The ministry is increasing the secondary school class size average from 22 to 28 students over the next four years. The magnitude of that change in class size means the TDSB will have 800 fewer high school teachers by the 2022-2023 school year. There are significant and far-reaching challenges associated with reducing this many teachers in high schools including:
- Fewer course offerings for students in smaller high schools;
- Challenges with growing class sizes;
- Negative impacts on students well-being through lack of access to a caring adult; and
- Challenges with meeting collective agreement class size caps.
In short, a reduction of 800 teachers represents an unprecedented cut to public education. Furthermore, new requirements that high school students take on-line courses may also further reduce the number of high school teachers.
Ministry’s Consultation – Class Sizes and Hiring Practices
Parents, students, educators and community members are encouraged to participate in the Ministry of Education’s consultation on class sizes and hiring practices. To learn more, including how to participate, please read the consultation guides. Deadline: May 31, 2019.
Chair Writes Letter to the Minister, re: Reduction of Teaching Positions and Funding
Robin Pilkey, Chair of the Board, wrote to the Minister of Education Lisa Thompson to express the Board's deep concerns with the Ministry's announcement on Friday, March 15, regarding funding reductions and increased class sizes. The full letter is available below.
Government of Ontario announced additional supports for students with autism and increased professional development for staff.
On March 11, the Ministry of Education announced they will be building on existing autism supports as well as strengthening professional development for teachers. This is a follow up to prior changes this government made to special needs funding in February. We anticipate this will lead to roughly 180 students with special needs entering our system for the first time. These additional supports include:
Ministry Announcement on 2018-19 Per Pupil Funding
To address school boards’ in-year needs, the ministry intends to provide for an extended count date for those students who have been receiving Ontario Autism Program (OAP) services and are newly enrolled in the April to June 2019 school months. School boards will report enrolment as of March 31 as usual. However, an extended count date will allow school boards to receive full school year funding for eligible newly enrolled students for the remaining months of the 2018-19 school year. This mechanism will provide an average of $12,300 per pupil to allow boards to plan supports for the remainder of the current school year.
The TDSB is expecting approximately 180 new students, and based on this projection expect approximately $2.2M of funding. Additional funding appears to be in the form of new students who register between now and June 30. These students for whom the Board would normally receive partial or no funding at this time of year will receive the full Grant for Student Need (GSN) funding. This is for new registrations only. There is no additional funding for students who are currently registered (approximately 130-140 students) and transitioning from part-time to full time status as a result of this announcement. This is one-time funding for students registering this spring and does not represent any further or additional funding into the 2019-2020 academic year.
2019-2020 School Year
Additional funding will be focused on such things as professional development and after school skills development. Continued funding means that come next school year, all students will receive the same per pupil funding allocation. As far as we know there is no additional funding allocation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) students to further support transitions.
The ministry will provide $1 million in annual funding to fully subsidize teachers who wish to acquire the additional ASD qualification. The ministry anticipates that this support would allow up to 4,000 teachers to acquire this qualification over the next three years. The ministry will also increase training opportunities available to school boards by doubling annual funding for the Geneva Centre for Autism to $2 million to provide training opportunities for educators, including teachers and education assistants.
Expanding After School Skills Development Programs
The ministry has been supporting a pilot program in many boards to allow the provision of the After School Skills Development Program. The ministry will make an investment of $6.1 million to allow this successful pilot to be extended to all school boards across the province in the 2019-2020 school year.
The TDSB has completed two After-School pilot programs in this 2018-2019 academic year for students with autism focusing on social skills and self-regulation strategies. Each session has served between 50-60 students. Additional funding to support this program will allow the TDSB to explore expanding this program to more locations throughout the TDSB.
Our Board has Approved our Strategic Drivers
At the Board meeting on Wednesday, April 17 we approved our strategic drivers for the 2019-2020 school year. The proposed 2019-2020 Budget Strategic Drivers were first presented to the Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (FBEC) on February 12, 2019. The drivers were considered as the 2019-2020 budget was being developed. Based on the feedback received from trustees at the meeting, staff updated and revised the proposed strategic drivers for the 2019-2020 budget. Those revised drivers were presented to FBEC on February 20 for approval and then to Board for approval on February 27. The proposed drivers were then used as part of our public consultations on the 2019-2020 budget.
Staff presented a report on the fiscal impact of the Ministry changes to FBEC on April 10. That report confirmed staff’s forecast of a structural deficit in of $25.7M in 2019-2020. More importantly however, staff also reported that the Ministry changes of March 15 have added $28.7M to the Board’s projected budget shortfall. Added together, the TDSB is now facing a budget shortfall of $54.4M – almost $28.7M more than previously forecast.
After all of these developments, and including a survey conducted by our research department accessed by a total of 15,250 respondents, we have landed upon the following drivers to consider in our work at board for the upcoming year. These points are in priority sequence.
- Early intervention supports, including early reading for students and child and family centres and early years programming.
- Reading by the end of Grade 1 and the development of foundational math skills by the end of Grade 2.
- Providing early literacy interventions and math programs aimed at improving student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.
- Pre-Kindergarten Summer Learning and transition-to-school programs.
- Professional development for teachers and early childhood educators.
- Supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) initiatives, which promote global competencies.
- Creating the conditions and programs in schools for students to personalize their programming choices to best meet their interests, strengths, and long term goals.
- Increasing access to programs such as Cooperative Education that provide students with relevant opportunities to apply learning in real-life employment placements.
- Variety of learning opportunities and specialized programs are critical components of students’ learning. Including co-op placements, experiential learning opportunities, and apprenticeship placements.
- Concerns with larger class sizes and the demands that places on teachers.
Differentiated Approaches to Serve Our Students including Indigenous Education
- Reduce the impact of poverty.
- Understand the impact of low income/poverty on education and respond effectively to our students’ well-being and academic needs so all students have the opportunity to succeed.
- Raise achievement and well-being among all students and eliminate historically disproportionate low outcomes among specific groups. Achievement gaps can be connected to demographic factors such as family income, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, among others.
- Equitable access to interventions that promote student wellbeing and student success.
- Nutrition programs are an important component within schools.
- Providing additional resources to specific schools through programs that fund interventions for students experiencing personal and academic challenges.
- Providing support to Toronto newcomers such as specialized programming to accelerate the development of their literacy skills in English, if it is not their primary language.
Staff Allocation to Support All Students
- School based vs central supports for student and staff mental health and wellbeing supports.
- Hiring qualified staff, but also staff who represent and identify with the school communities they serve.
- Student mental health and well-being.
- Inclusion of students with Special Education needs.
- Academic pathways leading to improved post-secondary opportunities.
- Equity, human rights, anti-oppression and anti-racism.
Modernization and Accessibility
- Use technology to diversify instruction, assessment, and improve accessibility.
- Improve access for all by working to remove physical and attitudinal barriers that prevent students and staff with disabilities from accessing services by ensuring all new applications are accessibility compliant.
- Focus on improving operational efficiencies by minimizing the usage of printed material and textbooks and identifying opportunities for automation and digitization in schools and departments.
- Increase access to data to improve organizational decision-making, reduce administrative costs, and provide better access to information and services.
- Continuing to modernize and improve TDSB’s IT infrastructure by expanding wireless access in our schools, increasing network capacity, and providing a robust, stable, secure, and highly available computing environment.
- PD needs to be more accessible for all members of staff.
- Importance of system-wide training related to equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression.
- More in-depth training in specific areas including Special Education Needs, behaviour management, early years, technology integration, STEAM integration, new educational insights, practical classroom applications, student success strategies.
- Facilitate parent and community engagement and leadership opportunities, i.e., Parent Conferences, workshops, training sessions, and interpretation and translation services.
- Staff training on strengthening relationships and creating environments where diverse identities are valued and all voices are heard and can influence education in the TDSB.
Parent Engagement and Student Voice
- Improving parent involvement in school improvement process.
- Significant work underway now at TDSB in the area of parent and community engagement.
- Important work is needed to engage newcomers and parents from marginalized or racialized groups.
- Acknowledge the needs of the surrounding communities to authentically engage parents; different cultural groups may require different engagement strategies; and, understand that there are different levels of engagement possibilities for different families.
- Improve supports and relationships with parents with students with Special Education Needs.
- Improve school to parent communications.
Traffic Safety and common courtesy during pickup and drop off
In my time working with all 19 schools in our ward, the most common concern is traffic safety and a need for courtesy towards one another and the neighbourhoods our schools support.
Vision Zero is planning to implement a 'School Safety Zone' for every school in the city. Each safety zone will include the following measures:
- New school zone safety signs with flashing beacons;
- School zone pavement stencils;
- “Watch your speed” driver feedback signs; and
- Zebra markings at school crosswalks.
By 2021 every school in our ward will be a school safety zone - Councillor Grimes is pushing to double the fines and severity of moving violations in these zones. Furthermore, Vision Zero is in the consultation phase for creating a 'School Traffic Management Program'. Once I receive the results of this consultation I will be sure to share it.
Pickup and drop off times at our schools are understandably very busy with vehicular and pedestrian traffic as students come and go. This leads to a strain on our roads and can challenge the safe flow of traffic. Along with the hustle and bustle of family life this can lead to distraction and disregard for the rules of our roads. It is important that we all maintain courtesy and patience towards each other during these busy times of day. This includes standing vehicles, blocking driveways, and parking illegally with hazards on. Most importantly please pay close attention to pedestrian traffic when driving, also if you are a pedestrian please use crosswalks and LOOK BOTH WAYS.
Traffic Safety and courtesy towards the neighbourhood is going to take consistent education and awareness from every stakeholder in our community. Principals, teachers and especially parent networks have put in a great deal of work into improving the safety and flow of people through our schools. It is crucial that we continue to communicate and discuss this issue with one another. As your TDSB Trustee I would like to say thank you in advance for driving safe and for following the rules of the road!
Do you know a TDSB staff member who goes above and beyond to support our students? Now is the time to honour that outstanding individual with an Excellence Award Nomination. Deadline is April 26, 2019.
French Immersion at Lakeshore CI?
A number of constituents have asked me about Lakeshore Collegiate Institute becoming a secondary French site. As part of the TDSB’s Long-Term Planning and Strategy process, a study is taking place in 2019-2020 on the feasibility for another secondary French Immersion site to open somewhere in Etobicoke (this includes Etobicoke, North and Centre). Lakeshore CI has been identified as a candidate school as it currently has capacity and adding the programming to the school would help support Lakeshore CI in offering elective courses. I will be sure to share info on this as it develops. The study is expected to be completed in the next year.
Youth Career Event at Toronto Police
City of Toronto National Youth Week is holding a career planning event at Toronto Police College on May 3, 2019 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity for youth to get hands on experience for potential careers in the Police department; they will also be getting a certificate of completion for attending the seminar.
The Toronto Police College is located in our ward at 70 Birmingham St.
The TDSB is currently looking for public input on the Caring and Safe Schools Policy (P051). To learn more, including how you can participate, please visit the TDSB webpage for Policy Consultations. Your input is welcomed and appreciated.
On April 22, 2019 #FreeYourPlay by encouraging children to get out, connect with the environment and experience the natural world around them. For resources and to learn more about Earth Day, please visit the website for Earth Day Canada.
Sign-up for TDSB Update and stay informed about recent Board decisions and district-wide news.
Continuing Education – Summer Music Camps
Add to your child’s summer vacation with music camp. Through three unique programs – Summer Sounds, DownTown Summer Strings and Toronto Summer Music Camps – the TDSB offers band, strings and orchestral experiences for students from Grades 3-9. Registration is open now.
Humber River Hospital's 10th Annual Child and Adolescent Clinical Day
I would like to extend this invitation to attend Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinical Day on June 7, 2019 at Humber River Hospital. The program includes presentations by renowned speakers, who will review the latest developments in the management of childrens' mental health challenges.
Clean Toronto Together Event
A number of community organized clean-ups are taking place over the next few weeks throughout our ward! You can find dates and times for park cleanups that have been shared below.
Friday, April 26 is also the City of Toronto’s School Yard Clean-up day. Join over 200,000 residents, students, businesses, organizations and community groups as we come together for the 16th annual city-wide cleanup of public spaces.
Councillor Grimes and his office will be out doing a clean-up on Friday April 26 as well, and are looking for some locations that need a little extra TLC! If you know of an area that could use some attention, please let them know!
If you are interested in organizing your own public space cleanup, you can register through the City of Toronto. Registration closes on April 17.
Registered clean-up events are eligible for free litter and recycling bags. The city will offer special litter collection for cleanups, subject to approval.
Peer Tutoring Program
The Jean Augustine Centre, in Partnership with License to Learn, is offering a Peer-Tutoring Program for students in grades 2-6.
The Pulse on Communications
We’re checking the pulse of our TDSB community – students, staff and parents – and we want to hear from you!
The Pulse is a new online engagement tool that invites your voice to help:
- Improve service delivery;
- Shape organizational directions and priorities;
- Ensure community needs are reflected in our services, procedures and policies; and
- Respond and implement change more quickly.
The Pulse is a short series of questions. You answer anonymously and only once per survey. Surveys will usually be open for two weeks and will be promoted online and through email.
Your opinions and views matter and can help shape how the TDSB serves you, our schools and our communities. Share your voice and watch for The Pulse!
Take the first Pulse and help us improve our communications to you.
Take The Pulse
In this first edition, we’re taking a quick pulse of TDSB staff on internal, employee communications. We need your input on how we can serve you better. The short survey below will just take a few moments to complete.
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