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February 2019 Newsletter

Whether you are a student, parent or resident, as your elected representative, it is my role to advocate on your behalf. On December 3, a new Board of Trustees (including myself) took office for the next four years. This is the link for Trustees on the TDSB website. 

Etobicoke Lakeshore, should you need to contact me regarding policy & oversight of the TDSB or have other concerns regarding public education please reach out to my office at 416-996-5572 or email at patrick.nunziata@tdsb.on.ca.

Twenty-two public school trustees are elected to represent public school supporters in the City of Toronto. The trustees meet as a Board on a regular basis and have organized standing committees that also meet on a regular basis. Below, I've included the committees that I am a member of for the next year (2019/20) as well as a schedule of meeting dates and times.

Anyone can attend any of these public meetings. This is the link for all Standing Committees and Standing Committee Meeting Schedule. Trustees are also members of Community Advisory Committees. These committees have been established to improve parental and community input on policy and program issues. These committees will have the opportunity to advise the Board on its policies and programs, in addition to providing an advocacy role for parents and the community. For information on  How to get involved, click here.

Kung Hei Fat Choy

The Toronto District School Board is proud to recognize Chinese Heritage Month during the month of February and the theme this year is “Year of the Pig: Happy, Easy Going, Honest, Trusting, Sincere, Optimistic & Sociable.”

During this month, we celebrate the energetic culture and traditions of the Chinese community with students, staff and community members of the Toronto District School Board and the City of Toronto.

Chinese community is integral to the growth and success of the City of Toronto and Canada. Members of the Chinese community represent approximately 10 percent of the total GTA population and form its second largest visible minority group. Canadians remember and appreciate the Chinese workers who helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway that united our country.

Chinese-Canadians recognize Lunar New Year on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and begins with the first moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar 15 days later!

February is African Heritage Month at the TDSB

February is African Heritage Month at the Toronto District School Board and we’re proud to recognize the experiences, contributions and achievements of African Canadians. This year’s theme is Out of many we are one: Across differences our commonalities uplift our African heritage, culture and people.

Throughout the month of February, we will highlight the many contributions that the African Canadian community has made by offering several educational opportunities to our students, staff and the TDSB community. These opportunities include students attending the Know Your Worth: Black Youth Empowerment Conference which is a joint collaboration with the TDSB and the Black Law Students’ Association at York University; visiting the Royal Ontario Museum; learning about coding at Apple Stores and visiting the Ibada Market Place exhibit. Further, a parent session is being organized by the Parent and Community Engagement Office on How to Speak to Your Children About Racism. Learn more at www.tdsb.on.ca.

Information Re: Weather-Related Cancellations/Closures

We have received a number of questions from members of our school communities about how the TDSB makes the decision to cancel buses and/or close all schools and we wanted to provide some important information that will explain the process.

A number of factors are taken into consideration when deciding on the cancellation of school buses, programs and/or closure of schools. The decision to cancel buses is not typically made due to unsafe road conditions, but because we want to avoid having students wait for unusually long periods of time in inclement weather for a bus or remain on that bus for hours due to weather-related traffic delays. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that, unlike other schools boards across the Greater Toronto Area, a vast majority of TDSB students — more than 90 percent — do not use school buses.  That means, if school buses are cancelled, it is still possible for students to get to school by walking, public transit or other means — although it may be slower than normal. We do understand, however, that for our congregated sites or where we bus all students to the school, the majority of students are affected. On Wednesday, February 6, school buses were cancelled, however approximately 170,000 students attended school despite the inclement weather.

Further, since different areas within the Greater Toronto Area have different weather patterns and geography, the decision made for one school board will differ from another. For example, recently the public and Catholic school boards in Toronto, York and Durham remained open, while other boards, including Peel, were closed.

As we hope you can appreciate, the decision concerning whether to keep schools open or closed has a major impact on the lives of many families in Toronto. Those families depend on us to provide educational opportunities for their children each and every day. 
Should all schools be closed, it causes significant hardship for many families. For a number of them, there are no other options readily available for their children. The decision to keep schools open allows families who are able, to keep their children at home, but also provides another option for families, who are not able to do the same. As always, we emphasize that parents/guardians make the final decision about whether to send their children to school. The TDSB supports whatever decisions parents/guardians make on days of severe weather. With regards to staff, we also understand that some may have difficulty in making into work or may experience delays. In those cases, we understand and encourage staff to speak with their Principal/Manager as there are Miscellaneous Days that may be able to be applied depending on circumstances.

Director’s Annual Report

In 2018 - Our enrolment was 173, 578 elementary & 72,994 secondary students.

Info on class sizes:
  • 90% of primary classes (JK - Grade 3) had 20 or fewer students
  • No primary classes (JK - Grade 3) had more than 23 students
  • The system average class size of Kindergarten classes was 24.4 students
  • 98% of Kindergarten classes had 29 or fewer students
  • No Kindergarten classes had more than 32 students
  • The system average class size in Grade 4-8 classes was 23.23 students

The entire 2018 Director’s Annual Report is available online. This report is a summary of the work that is happening across the system in support of achievement, equity and well-being. The January 31st webcast with the Director John Malloy featured a variety of topics, including Academic Pathways, Math, Global Competencies and Special Education. If you were unable to watch the webcast live you can still watch the online video.
  • The summary findings of the TDSB French Program Review are now available. Recommendations on French Programming are expected this coming spring.
  • Grade 8 Course Selection through myblueprint (www.myblueprint.ca) will began mid-January and continue into the first 2 weeks of February at most schools. Students will complete their course forms for all their desired Grade 9 courses at desired schools. Contact your school's administration or Guidance Counsellor for more information. https://www.tdsb.on.ca/High-School/Guidance/Choices.
  • The 2017 School Student and Parent Census Data is now available for each school and TDSB Ward. Parents and School Councils who would like to review their school's census data and the accompanying information guide should contact their school's Principal. An information guide for the Ward-wide census data will be available February 14th.

TDSB Budget Updates

Ministry of Education Announces $25 Million in Cuts to Education Programs

On December 14, the Ministry of Education made an announcement that $25 million in funding cuts would affect Education Programs across the province. This was followed by further announcements on December 21, including the PRO-Grant status. The table below highlights these cuts (to date $744,500 at the TDSB).

Parents Reaching Out Grants (PRO) 2018 – 2019

On December 21, 2018, the Ministry of Education announced that the PRO School Council Grant was approved. 374 TDSB School Council applications were approved totalling $369,901.00.  

This year there were 43 fewer schools council applications resulting in a decrease of funding by  $41,437.00 compared to  2017/2018. This year’s allocation is very similar to TDSB’s 2016/2017 PRO Grant funding. 

Attached is a list that outlines the budget status of PRO grants separated by ward and a copy of the School Council Project Guidelines and Terms and Conditions.

Presentation and Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

On January 29, 2019, TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey appeared before the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and presented a submission on behalf of the Board as part of the pre-budget consultations. You can read the Chair’s remarks and submission, with an appendix providing additional details to the remarks. Robin touched on the following: 
  • Concerns with the early signs of the provincial government’s fiscal restraint plan. It seems to be targeting programs that help our most in-need communities; our most vulnerable youth (Reduction to the Community Use of Schools Priority Schools Grant that subsidizes school boards to offer free permitting for the use of schools in low socioeconomic neighborhoods; Cutting the provincial grant that helps teen dropouts re-engage with school and earn their high school diploma; and. we continue to wait on a decision from the Ministry about continuing to fund the Focus on Youth Summer Program that allowed the TDSB to hire 600 youth to work alongside community agencies that serve our city’s most at-risk youth – and, overall, it benefited more than 11,000 young people.)
  • Advocacy for Education Development Charges (EDCs). TDSB does not qualify now because it has excess capacity when assessed on a district-wide basis, regardless of significant pressures and challenges faced in many neighborhood schools. In our view, the same way that developers pay for services such as roads, transit and community centres, they should contribute towards education. If the TDSB qualified for EDCs, we could expect to have $350-million over the next 15 years, to meet growth-related infrastructure needs. If we had a little flexibility in how we spend this money, some of the funds could go toward our staggering repair backlog. As it stands now, both the TDSB and the province are leaving $350 million on the table.
  • Stable and predictable funding to tackle TDSB's renewal backlog which sits at about $3.9 billion as of January 2019, and continues to rise. Our ask is that you commit to providing predictable and sustainable funding for school repairs – as well as, consider more creative and innovative approaches to financing the renewal needs backlog. I ask you to look at both traditional and non-traditional financing strategies. We must continue to maintain public ownership and public operation of schools, however, that does not preclude us from exploring alternative finance and procurement models to support annual government investments in school renewal.

2019-20 Budget

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 23.

Learn more about the TDSB’s 2019-20 Operating Budget:

Budget Ward Forum - March 21 2019 at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute

Join me and Trustees Dan Maclean, Harpreet Gill, Chris Tonks and Executive Officer of Finance, Craig Snider as we discuss Budget at TDSB. 

We will be holding this event March 21, 7:00 pm at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, 86 Montgomery Road, Etobicoke.

Norseman / Castlebar Update

Castlebar Jr School is to be reopened this September following renovations that will be taking place this spring/summer. Castlebar will accept K-5 students from the catchment area of overcrowded Norseman JMS.

At Board on February 6, our Board of Trustees approved a series of Principal/Vice-Principal transfers and promotions.  At the meeting the promotion of Ms. Colleen Bellehumeur, Vice-Principal at James S Bell Junior Middle Sports and Wellness Academy to Principal at Castlebar Junior School was approved.  In addition, the promotion of Mr. Jeffrey Newman, teacher at John English Junior Middle School to Vice-Principal at James S Bell Junior Middle Sports and Wellness Academy was approved effective February 19, 2019.

Between the Norseman parent community, myself & Superintendent Hayhurst we developed a set of hiring criteria (known as a School Statement of Needs) for Castlebar's new principal. Some of the needs we expressed were:

Accountability and Leadership

  • Leader and motivator for all staff, students and parents
  • Fiscally responsible in managing school budgets
  • Strong supporter and motivator for academic success for all students
Improving Student Achievement and School Success
  • Proactive in creating and supporting new ideas to deliver curriculum to inspire and ignite student engagement
  • High expectations for all learners
  • Supports inclusion, access to support and information about Special Education as needed
Build a Strong School Community, with Parent and Community Engagement
  • Values and actively involves parents as important members of the school community
  • Highly visible and available to meet with parents, staff and students
  • Regularly interacts with students and staff and intentionally walks through the school, visiting classrooms and engaging students.
At this time we would like to thank Ms. Bellehumeur for her support of and dedication to the students of James S Bell JM SWA and for her commitment to the parents, staff and members of the James S Bell community.  Ms. Bellehumeur’s supportive, caring and student-focused style has served the school community well.  Please join us in congratulating Colleen on her promotion and wishing her all the best in her new position of Principal at Castlebar Junior School.

Mr. Jeffrey Newman brings with him teaching experience from several elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board.  He holds qualifications in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior Divisions with additional qualifications in English as a Second Language and Special Education.  Jeffrey is committed to an equitable, diverse and accepting school environment focused on student achievement and the well-being and inclusion of all learners.

Please join us in welcoming Jeffrey Newman to the James S Bell Junior Middle Sports and Well Academy community.  We look forward to working with Mr. Newman and Principal Jennie Petko.

PIAC Appreciation Dinner

A friendly reminder for all School Council Chairs/Co-Chairs (or their designates) to register for the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) Appreciation and Information Dinner on Thursday, February 21 at the Montecassino Hotel and Convention Centre, 3710 Chesswood Dr from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (registration opens at 5:30). Please join us in celebrating the work and contribution of school councils/parents to the education system.

Register at  https://www.tdsb.on.ca/Community/How-to-Get-Involved/School-Councils by February 15. I look forward to seeing you there.

Good News Stories

trending@tdsb is a new online publication that features stories by former education reporter Louise Brown that will take you inside schools across the Toronto District School Board. Her stories focus on the exciting changes that are underway in and out of our classrooms, including new ways of learning and teaching, reaching deeper into communities and putting equity into action.  

Report Cards

Term 1 report cards for elementary students come home over the next week. For this round of report cards, teachers usual reach out to parents and request an interview if the student is having some issues. But as always, you can always contact your teacher to discuss the report card or any other concerns you may have. Please click here for some suggestions on preparing for Parent-Teacher Interviews.

We need crossing guards!

Our community has a shortage of crossing guards! The Toronto Police Service is accepting applications from those who are interested in becoming School Crossing Guards! The main responsibility of the job is to help all school aged children, up to and including grade 6, safely cross the street at designated locations.

If you are interested in applying for a Crossing Guard position, please visit 22 Division Police in person.

Requirements as set out by the Toronto Police Service are: 
  • All applicants are required to pass a vision test
  • All applicants must provide a certificate of fitness from their family physician, confirming that they are physically fit to carry out the duties of a Crossing Guard.
For more information please visit the Toronto Police Service website.

Requesting a Crossing Guard

As the Crossing Guard program is currently operated by Toronto Police Services, all requests for a Crossing Guard near your child's school must be logged at Toronto Police Headquarters. A request will be made for a traffic survey to determine if the area warrants the implementation of a Crossing Guard. In the event that the crossing location warrants the placement of a Crossing Guard, the final decision rests with the Chief of Police.

If you are interested in having a traffic survey conducted in your area for a crossing guard, please contact the Chief of Police by e-mail at officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca.

Please provide the following information:
  • Name of school
  • Reason for request
  • Identify the intersection or location where you would like a Crossing Guard
  • Your name, address and phone number
For more information please visit the  Toronto Police Service website.

Let’s Talk: Mental Health and Well-Being

Dunlace PS has a Kindness Club. Newtonbrook SS has a Mental Health Committee. At Lambton-Kingsway JMS, staff connect about improving student engagement. At George B. Little PS, the youth wellness committee created a wellness mural to raise awareness about emotions and the right to express them.

These are just some of the ways schools are focusing on student mental health and well-being.

Good mental health and well-being are central to student success. It includes our emotions, our thoughts and feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, our social connections, and our understanding of the world around us. Students feel a greater sense of well-being when they are engaged and feel that they belong, feel safe and feel included.

Students need our collective support to be healthy individuals, and the relationship that students have with each other and adults is an important part of that. Every student needs peers and a caring adult they can connect with, feel accepted by and talk to when dealing with life’s challenges. And, research tells us that as students age, their emotional well-being declines.

Students’ voices need to be at the centre of the discussion about how to improve their well-being. When students and parents become involved in this process they are more likely to develop of a sense of agency, build positive relationships and connection with staff as they become active participants in their own schooling experiences.

TDSB staff are committed to providing welcoming, safe and inclusive learning environments where every student feels they belong. We are working hard to strengthen the adult-student connection and make meaningful decisions that support student achievement and well-being.

Read more about students’ well-being through our 2017 Student and Parent Census.

Learn more about mental health and well-being initiatives in the TDSB.

Policy Consultations

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.

Home Instruction Policy (P060) - To establish the Board's commitment to providing home instruction services for all eligible pupils in accordance with the requirements of Ontario Regulation 298, Operation of Schools – General under the Education Act. 

Closes February 22, 2019 Draft Policy P060 Contact: Ron.Felsen@tdsb.on.ca   

Student Dress Code Policy (P042) - To establish standards and fair and equitable practices for student dress in schools; centered on student engagement and student voice. To recognize that students need the freedom to express themselves and experience school as an important social environment, not a professional work environment, and that dress plays a fundamental role in how students build healthy relationships and express themselves.

Student Dress Code Policy Survey - Closes February 28, 2019
Draft Policy P042 Contact Kenneth.Jeffers@tdsb.on.ca

Adult High Schools – 2019 Adult Census

From February 25-28, 2019, students from the TDSB’s five adult high schools will be able to make their voice heard through the 2019 Adult Student Census. The Census results will help inform adult education programming and planning across the TDSB and support the province in developing evidence-based policies for adult students. The TDSB’s adult high schools support students in achieving their academic goals, applying to post-secondary education, and entering chosen career fields. www.adultschoolstoronto.ca.

Adult ESL

Gaining proficiency in English is a critical skill for newcomers to our city, especially for many parents of children in our schools to connect with the community. Every year, over 18,000 adults benefit from the TDSB’s English as a Second Language classes in 75 locations across the city. We offer free ESL classes to adults who are residents of Canada. We also offer classes for visitors on a fee per hour basis. Registration is ongoing. Visit www.ESLToronto.ca for more information.


Registration for the Spring 2019 term starts February 13, 2019 with classes starting March 30, 2019. Learn4Life offers general interest courses to anyone over 18 who want to learn a new skill, meet new people in their community, or take up an interesting hobby. Interested in learning how to weld? How about learning Spanish for your upcoming trip? Our courses include Art, Fitness, Languages, Business, Handiwork, Food and Sports. Visit www.learn4life.ca for more information.

Kindergarten Registration Begins in February!

Registration for all TDSB Kindergarten programs begins in February. We look forward to welcoming you and your child at our school in September! 

To attend Junior Kindergarten in September, children must turn four-years-old by December 31. To register for Senior Kindergarten, children must be five-years-old by December 31. You may choose to register in person at the school or begin the process online. 

For more information about the Kindergarten program and registration requirements, please visit www.tdsb.on.ca/kindergarten.

February 18 is a Statutory Holiday HAPPY FAMILY DAY

There will be no classes on Monday, February 18th to reflect the province-wide statutory holiday called Family Day. The holiday occurs on the third Monday in February of each year for the purpose of emphasizing and celebrating the importance of families taking time to be together. 

Because teachers are involved in professional learning on Friday, February 15 for the Board-wide Professional Activity Day, students will not be attending school on Friday, February 15 and Monday, February 18 which is the statutory holiday - Family Day.

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