Welcome Back and Happy New Year!
I hope everyone has had a restful and enjoyable break.
It’s been a busy start to my first term as your Ward 11 Trustee. It started with a full weekend of governance training at the Rotman School of Business at U of T, and my official swearing in on December 3rd. What followed was a very busy December spent visiting schools, meeting with staff, and attending many committee and Board meetings. Together with my new colleagues, I logged a lot of hours in learning sessions on a multitude of topics, giving all of us ample opportunity to get to know each other, and more importantly, to help us get acquainted with the inner workings of the TDSB so that we are better prepared for our new roles. It's been a steep learning curve with more to come, but I have also now have a better sense of many of the challenges and successes in the diverse schools in Ward 11 and I look forward to what lies ahead as we start 2019!
As I figure out the best approach to these communications, I have tried to limit the amount of information contained to make my newsletter accessible and yet still informative. Your feedback is welcome and you may notice in the newsletters to come that I am tweaking my approach as I figure out "the sweet spot". For this first communication, what follows are a few announcements and important pieces of information including: my upcoming first community meeting, Provincial funding changes, PRO Grants, and Optional Attendence information. As well, at the bottom of this newsletter is a sign-up section so that my communications can be delivered directly to your inbox and you stay up to date!
COFFEE MORNING: JANUARY 23, 9:15-11:30am, Upstairs at Longo’s on Laird (including PIAC elections!)
I have decided to continue the tradition of Gerri’s coffee mornings and have already scheduled my first one for two weeks from now. Please join me for a morning of conversation and idea exchange. We will have some short updates on Board activities and meet some of our superintendents of Ward 11 schools, but the focus will really be on learning from each other and networking with fellow parents and constituents. At this particular meeting, we will also be electing our Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) Representative and Alternate, as well as our French as A Second Language Advisory Committee (FSLAC) Representative and Alternate(s).
Each TDSB Ward has two PIAC Members, a Representative and an Alternate. They are parent advocates who provide information and advice on parent engagement to the TDSB; communicate with and support school councils; and undertake activities to help parents of pupils of the board support their children's learning at home and at school. According to the PIAC By-Laws, in order to serve for the two-year term, you must be a Toronto District School Board parent or guardian, as well as either reside in the ward and have a TDSB-enrolled child who resides in the ward, or have a child who is enrolled in a TDSB school in the ward. If you are interested, please read the information package on elections here
. To learn about PIAC, check out their website here
and consider attending their next meeting (Tuesday, Jan. 16th, 7pm, 5050 Yonge St) to get a sense of this committee.
Similarly, each TDSB Ward has an FSLAC representative and an alternate (and sometimes multiple alternates). FSLAC consults with and advises the Board on French as a Second Language matters and contributes to the work of trustees and staff. This partnership of trustees, staff and parents aims to foster excellence in FSL programs at the Board and covers all french programming -- Core, Extended and Immersion -- so is relevant to all TDSB families, not simply those whose children are enrolled in specialized french programming. The FSLAC is comprised of parent representatives and alternates elected by ward councils, a parent co-chair elected by FSLAC parent representatives, 3 trustees (one of whom happens to be me!) and designated TDSB staff. This is an exciting time to be involved in FSLAC as the French Review is underway and the TDSB is currently working on recommendations to come out of that review. Consider learning more about FSLAC by clicking here.
If you are interested in serving as a rep for PIAC or FSLAC, please let me know by e-mailing me at Rachel.ChernosLin@tdsb.on.ca.
UPDATE ON PROVINCIAL FUNDING CHANGES: EDUCATION PROGRAM OTHER (EPO FUNDING): Bad News...
In late December, the Provincial Government announced $25 million in cuts to Specialized Program Grants across the Province. The TDSB estimates that this will translate into grant cancellations for our board in the amount of $744,500. Staff are currently working hard to understand exactly how these cuts will impact the TDSB and this school year. A detailed report will be shared with Trustees at the January 23 meeting of the Finance, Business and Enrollment Committee and we will keep our consituents updated as we learn more. To read more about the provincial funding news, click here
PRO GRANTS: Good news!
On the plus side, the Ministry of Education finally announced that it will go ahead and continue to fund the Parent Reaching Out Grants (PRO Grants). Successful applicants should expect to be notified this week. I hope that school councils will share feedback with each other and with me about the programs they run with these grants and I encourage everyone to share and publicize those events that can be opened up to other schools in our ward.
In the last few weeks I have had several inquiries about optional attendence. If your child is interested in applying to a school other than your home school, I encourage you to read all about the optional attendence procedure and take note of important dates and deadlines. More information can be found on the TDSB website or by clicking here: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/Find-your/School/Optional-Attendance
Finally, I want to leave you with some interesting reading -- a new feature from the TDSB called "trending@tdsb". Former Toronto Star education correspondent, Louise Brown, is busy uncovering innovative learning practices across the TDSB and recounting them for all of us to read and learn from. She will "take you inside schools across the Toronto District School Board to discover some of the exciting changes underway behind the classroom door. Fresh kinds of learning, new ways of teaching, reaching deeper into their communities, putting equity into action and all-round cool schools with stories to share." So far, no Don Valley West schools have been featured, so if you have a story to share... let me know! To read up on some inspirational stories from across our Board, check out what's trending@tdsb: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/about-us/innovation/trendingattdsb
I hope to see many of you on the morning of Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at Longo's on Laird!
Rachel Chernos Lin