Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh – A.A.Milne) The next few months will be particulary challenging for everyone in the public education sector based on recent provincial announcements - but through it all, please remember - there is excellence in our classrooms - teachers and education workers will continue to support students and their families... Ontario has a world-class education system - and we will continue to do our best to raise our voices, build awareness and push back when government decisions are not based on evidence or being made in the best interest of students.
Tragic Events in Christchurch, NZ
Chair Robin Pilkey and Director John Malloy offered the following statement
on Friday. We were shocked and saddened to learn of the hateful acts of violence at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand... Our thoughts are with the victims of this tragedy, their loved ones and the larger Muslim community. We can assure you that acts of hate and Islamophobia such as this only strengthen our resolve to engage our students and staff in important conversations about building a more inclusive and compassionate society. As always, we remain committed to supporting our students and staff, some of whom may be experiencing feelings of vulnerability or insecurity following these attacks. Media coverage at times like this can also be very challenging for some students. Our Professional Support Services staff have assembled tips for parents that may help with discussions with children. In memory of those who lost their lives, flags at TDSB Education Centres will be lowered... through the weekend.
Let's Fight Racism and Hate
March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - the UN's 2019 Theme: Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies.
Racist extremist movements based on ideologies that seek to promote populist, nationalist agendas are spreading in various parts of the world, fueling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance...must condemn nationalist populism that advances exclusionary or repressive practices and policies that harm individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, or other related social categories.
As you can see from the photo below, we are not immune - sadly there are far too many examples of hate within our own communities - the latest graffiti against one of our school walls contained anti-Semitic, anti-black and homophobic racism - hate. Each and every time if we see it or hear it we must act. It's up to each of us - every day, each and every one of us can stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes. In our Caring and Safe Schools Policy, P051, 6.1.1 The Board will ensure that all schools effectively respond to and implement prevention and intervention programs, strategies and practices to best provide accepting, respectful, welcoming, inclusive, caring, compassionate and healthy working and learning environments – free from discrimination, harassment and hate. We must redouble our efforts.
Please see below for ways to comment on the policy which is currently in revision.
Update re Ward Forums - Next one April 1st in the Morning!
At our Ward Forum on January 22, we discussed alternate options for ward meetings in an effort to allow more parents to attend. There was little interest from parents in meeting on weekends. Daytime meetings were suggested – possibly as a Coffee Hour in an out-of-school location. Mornings were favoured with an idea of scheduling the first one towards the end of March to early April. A small group of parents offered to help work on the idea - please see below! Let's try this on April 1st - see the flyer below.
And for those that could not make it to our March 7, 2019 - Joint Budget Ward Forum (with Ward 11 - Trustee Rachel Chernos Lin), please find the materials below. Please click here
to provide us with your opinions before April 2.
Update re Autism Funding
From our board website - if your child will be transitioning from therapy to school, either part or full-time, we are here to support you in all of our schools throughout the TDSB. If you have questions about the process and/or registration, we encourage you to contact your local school, or for further guidance, contact the Special Education centrally assigned principal responsible for your Learning Centre.
For a preliminary analysis of the announcement related information regarding school board funding to support Autism and how it applies to the TDSB, please click here
. Needless to say, we remain very concerned that students on the Autism spectrum will not get the appropriate treatment and therapy they need. Teachers are not therapists and cannot be expected to be so. An AQ course is not the same as providing funding for students to access therapy from a qualified ABA therapist. And all students need appropriate supports in inclusive classrooms or learning cannot happen for all.
Key points from TDSB preliminary analysis -
- 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 ($12,300). The Ministry is not providing additional funding for students who are currently registered and transitioning from part-time to full time status as a result of this announcement. This is a one-time funding for students registering this spring and does not represent any further or additional funding into the 2019/20 academic year.
- There is no additional funding allocation for ASD students to further support transitions for students already registered or into the 2019/20 academic year.
- We will continue to partner with the Geneva Centre to provide PD opportunities. In the TDSB, we provide PD to support ABA and behavioural strategies for central, school staff, and leaders through workshops as well as in schools as central staff work collaboratively with staff locally. Financial support for teachers to take Additional Qualification Courses (AQ) focused on Autism is welcome and is indeed new money. Such PD is teacher-initiated, rather than offered through TDSB professional development.
- Special education funding is projected to be $3.01 billion in 2018-19, which will continue in 2019-20. This information references existing funding such as Special Equipment Amount (SEA), Special Incidence Portion (SIP) as part of special education funding and do not represent new or additional money for school boards. The TDSB already spends close to $39M over its allocation.
- TDSB has completed two After-School pilot programs in this 2018/19 academic year for students with Autism focusing on social skills and self-regulation strategies. Additional funding to support this program will allow TDSB to explore expanding this program to more locations throughout the TDSB.
- The Connections for Students model is a transition program that connects TDSB staff from the Autism team with clinical staff and families to discuss how to best support a successful transition. While no additional funding has been announced to support, this process will continue. Each student registration and transition will be considered on a case-by-case basis to support individual student needs for the transition and beyond.
TDSB Summary of March 15, 2019 Announcement by Ontario’s Minister of Education
Staff are analyzing the announcements from the Ministry of Education Friday - Education That Works for You
- and will be providing information on the specific impacts to TDSB students, staff and schools as soon as possible. There will be an initial report on classroom staffing at the Finance, Budget and Enrollment Committee (FBEC) Tuesday. There is no question that any Ministry reduction to TDSB’s budget will have a significant effect on what we can offer to support our students' achievement and well-being. Preliminary comments -
- Modernization - we agree that modernization of our school system is very important and now, more than ever, is needed to improve the condition of our schools. Province-wide, we face a $15 billion dollar school repair backlog including a $3.9 billion repair backlog facing TDSB schools. One of the government’s budget priorities needs to be investing in school repairs and school modernization as well maintained learning environments can contribute to better learning outcomes for students.
- Hiring Practices - Ontario Regulation 274/12, under the Education Act, establishes mandatory processes that prioritize seniority, rather than specific skills or previous performance, as the most important criteria in hiring. OPSBA has advocated for its repeal and I am glad it will finally be dealt with.
- Class Size - Kindergarten - no changes to the class size caps. Primary (grades 1 to 3) - no proposed changes to either the caps or the average class size requirements. Intermediate (grades 4 to 8) - all school boards would be required to maintain a boardwide average class size of 24.5 or less, while the funded average class size would be minimally increased from 23.84 to 24.5. It means larger class sizes for intermediate grades. But we are especially concerned about the substantial jump in high school class averages that will be phased in over 4 years. And we know that students, parents, teachers and principals share this concern. This school year we based secondary staffing on a system wide average class size of 21.7. If we were to have implemented the Ministry average class size of 22.0, a reduction of approximately 50.0 FTE classroom teachers would have been required. While we have to learn more details, the change to a Ministry average class size of 28 is significant and will negatively impact student learning, not only in larger classes, but we expect this will impact course offerings at some high schools. And the new requirements that high school students take a minimum of four e-learning credits out of the 30 credits needed to fulfill the requirements for achieving an Ontario Secondary School Diploma will also have an impact on both students and a further reduction of high school teachers. E-learning does not work for all, does not consider equitable access to technology and I find this particularly problematic.
- Health and Physical Education Curriculum - Thankfully the government confirmed that topics such as consent, online safety and gender identity will continue to be part of the curriculum. But all students must feel safe and welcomed... concerned about the younger students who do not identify as male or female or have family that don't... they need to see themselves reflected in curriculum...schools must be inclusive, safe and caring for all students. We have always felt you cannot "opt out" of human rights education and we will need more details on how the opt out will work and for what parts of the curriculum will it apply.
- Curriculum - The emphasis on Math and STEM and Skilled Trades is welcomed, especially if funding is associated. However, there is a real concern on how student learning will be improved with fewer teachers in schools. The cellphone ban is not a ban - the TDSB's current policy fits "It is important to make sure that they are used responsibly, do not interfere with learning and respect the rights of others at all times."
- EQAO - I have long been a vocal supporter of changes to EQAO and it is my hope that the government implements all the recommendations from the Independent Review of Assessment and Reporting Ontario: A Learning Province.It is too early to know what the province means by "modernize the agency and its processes, while using data to build better assessment and evaluation models that have a greater focus on equity."
TDSB Committees This Week
Special Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:30 p.m. Boardroom, 1st Floor, 5050 Yonge Street Agenda
4. Budget Matters
4.1 School-Based Staffing 2018-2019 Approval (To follow)
Board Meeting - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 Boardroom, 1st Floor, 5050 Yonge St - Public Session begins at 7pm
15.1 Membership on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority's Outdoor Education Task Force
16.1 Governance and Policy Committee, Report No. 16, February 13, 2019
1. P048, Occupational Health and Safety Policy: Annual Review
2. P072, Workplace Violence Prevention Policy: Annual Review
3. Trustee Pregnancy and Parental Leave Policy, Phase 5
4. Establishment of a Conflict of Interest Registry
5. Equity Assessment Tool
16.2 Program and School Services Committee, Report No. 73, February 20, 2019
1. Black Student Achievement Community Advisory Committee: Development of Black History Program in Schools and Record of Black History Month School Activities
2. French-as-a-Second-Language Community Advisory Committee Report, February 11, 2019: Data to Improve French as a Second Language Programming
3. School Year Calendar, 2019-20
4. Parent and Student Involvement in School Improvement
16.3 Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (Special Meeting), Report No. 27 (Part C), February 20, 2019
1. Contract Awards, Operations
2. Contract Awards, Facilities
5. Financial Facts: Revenue and Expenditure Trends February 2019
16.4 Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (Special Meeting) Report No. 28 (Part B), February 25, 2019
1. Courcelette Public School Update
16.5 Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (Special Meeting) Report No. 29, March 19, 2019 (To be presented)
16.6 Audit Committee, Report No. 48, March 18, 2019 (To be presented)
17. Written Notices of Motion
17.1 Reconsideration of Previous Board Decision: Schedule of Meetings for Regular Board, Committee of the Whole and Standing Committee Meetings, 2019: Date Change re October Board
(Trustees Pilkey and Moise)
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
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.
Worth Repeating - Parents as Partners 2019
The Parents as Partners Conference 2019 is on Saturday, March 30 and all parents are welcome! This free conference – planned by parents, for parents – includes a variety of workshops and resources that will help any parent to support their child in their achievement and well-being at school and at home. Transportation, food and interpreters are all provided, as well as free Day Camp for children ages 4-12 to support participants while attending the conference. Register now https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/parents-as-partners-conference-2019-tickets-50703596823
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