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April 30, 2012 - Budget Consultation Meeting Minutes
Budget Consultation Meeting
                                          April 30, 2012

        A Budget Consultation Meeting was held in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220~Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Monday, April 30, 2012, at 6:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
L. French, Chair
G. Beavis
H. Brown
H. Chadwick
L. French
A. Goodfellow                                   
D. Jackson
P. Murray
S. Ruttan
Present Staff:
S. Hedderson, Principal, École Lundy’s Lane School, and Association of Elementary School Administrators
T. Holden, Principal, Napanee District  SS, and Secondary School Principals and Secondary Administrators’ Association Organization
E. Braidford, Manager of Financial Services
K. Burra, Assistant to the Director, Safe Schools
J. Douglas, Communications Officer
B. Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
T. Giles, Supervising Principal
R. Holmes, Supervising Principal
B. Hunter, Director of Education
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Education
S. Lehman, Supervising Principal
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
A. McDonnell, Supervising Principal
R. Richard, Superintendent of Business Services
W. Toms, Manager of ITS and Planning Officer
        Chair French welcomed those present to the meeting, thanking the presenters for attending the meeting to present their budget requests.  She indicated that the information presented this evening will be received and Trustees will take the comments from this evening’s meeting into consideration as they move forward through the budget process.

        Chair French reported that regrets were received from Trustee Crawford.

Declaration of Conflict of Interest

        Trustee Goodfellow declared a conflict of interest as her son is an employee of the Limestone District School Board, and she withdrew from the meeting.

Approval of Agenda

        MOVED BY Trustee Chadwick, seconded by Trustee Murray, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried


Association of Elementary School Administrators                                         

        Steve Hedderson, Association of Elementary School Administrators (AESA), was present.  He stated that the AESA would like to thank the Board for allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective on budget priorities to consider as part of 2012-2013 budget deliberations, as well as thank them for their support last year in the areas of professional learning, technology and the site-based financial model.

        Mr. Hedderson commented that AESA’s budget priorities continue to reflect the commitment of elementary administrators to supporting the ongoing professional learning for all staff, including themselves.  We believe that a strong commitment to ongoing learning for staff is the best way to continue to improve learning and achievement for all Limestone students and is an essential component in helping to meet the objectives outlined in the Board’s Strategic Plan, Success for All.  

        Mr. Hedderson remarked that for the third straight year, despite provincial restraint, elementary administrators would like to see continued investment in technology.  He stated that elementary administrators acknowledge the role of technology in our schools to help support student engagement and to help make learning visible and relevant to 21st century learners.  He further stated that they also feel that technology is an important element of a dynamic work environment that meets the needs of a changing staff demographic.
        Mr. Hedderson commented that in addition, elementary administrators would like continued autonomy in their respective schools in terms of school budgets, which they hope will remain similar to past years, in that they be allocated by a per pupil amount and supplemented by an additional amount based on site compensatory needs.

        Mr. Hedderson stated that elementary administrators remain steadfast in their laser-like focus on learning and student achievement; however, as schools leaders they recognize this achievement is only possible when our schools are safe, healthy and caring for everyone in our community.  He indicated that they understand they have no greater commitment to families than keeping their children safe at school.  He reported that they are requesting a one-time investment to support schools in complying with lockdown procedures.

        Mr. Hedderson commented that finally, looking to the future, elementary administrators have indicated that some funds be considered for expanded program opportunities for elementary students, similar to district technology programs at First Avenue Public School and Amherstview Public School, and that they remain open to consultation about potential future program enhancements and investments.

        Mr. Hedderson reviewed the following budget priorities:

Budget Priority #1 – Professional Learning (Co-Planning, Co-Teaching, Co-Learning)

Elementary administrators are committed to the ongoing learning of all staff.  We believe that it is imperative to have funds targeted for release time in individual schools to continue the important work of capacity building for teachers in order to support high levels of learning for all students.  John Hattie (2012) discussed the power of teachers working together critiquing their planning and stated that “the co-planning of lessons is the task that has one of the highest likelihoods of making a marked positive difference on student learning” (p.66).

We would ask the Board to consider funding flexible release time to support the differentiated professional learning for all staff that aligns with the goals and priorities in the strategic plan, in addition to any sweatered Ministry funding which may be forthcoming.  Elementary administrators remain committed to supporting Collaborative Inquiry for teachers and providing differentiated professional learning opportunities that support the greatest needs of teachers as determined by the greatest needs of students in our schools.

We believe our role in this process as instructional leaders is critical, and therefore, a continued investment in our learning is also a top priority.

Budget Priority #2 – Technology (Infrastructure and Program Support)

Despite the provincial reduction in technology funding, elementary administrators continue to see technology as an important area for local investment.  We recognize the students in our schools represent a generation of children and youth, who have no memory of a world without the Internet, without instant access to information, and without an array of media at their fingertips.  The challenge of engaging today’s students is partially about machines and devices; but more about how these tools can be used to support critical and creative thinking, and highly effective communication skills for a 21st century knowledge society.  For example, when LCD projectors and document cameras are readily available to all teachers, it helps make learning visible for students.  It also helps to promote self and peer assessment and establishes a healthy feedback system, all of which are critical elements of an engaging and responsive learning environment.

 These tools and other technological learning tools help promote a culture where students are motivated to accept responsibility for their learning in an ongoing cycle of inquiry.

Technologically sound school environments would include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) at some point in time, so students can bring their own tools to support their learning community.  We are encouraged by the increase in the number of portable carts of netbooks entering schools so there is more access for students and at different times during the day, particularly given the recent increase in licenses for assistive technology software to support the learning of all students.  We recognize that technology is evolving rapidly and even a 5-year strategic plan would ideally remain flexible enough to meet the needs of students and support the goals of Elementary Program.

We also see a technology investment in infrastructure and equipment acknowledging the needs of a changing staff demographic to fully engage in their important work in support of student achievement.

Budget Priority #3 – Site-Based Financial Model

Elementary administrators are hopeful that the Board will continue to allocate school budgets on a per-pupil amount, supplemented by an additional amount based on compensatory needs of the site.  Continuing with this budget model allows for some level of autonomy for Principals and Vice-Principals to address local needs, as we continue to support staff learning and student learning to improve student achievement, reduce achievement gaps and increase public confidence in public education in our respective communities and across the district.

Budget Priority #4 – Maintaining a Safe School Environment to Support Student Learning and Achievement

Elementary administrators understand that our focus is on student achievement.  However, we recognize that a safe school environment is a prerequisite to maintain this focus.  Elementary administrators request that the Board consider a central budget plan to support the one-time purchase of appropriate window coverings and exit signage to bring all schools into compliance with our own lockdown procedures.

Budget Priority #5 – Looking Toward the Future…Expanded Opportunities

Beyond our top three budget priorities for 2011-2012, we would like to see some funds dedicated to expanded program opportunities for elementary students. Along the lines of the current technology programs at First Avenue Public School and Amherstview Public School, we would like to see the Board consider additional program opportunities that are open to a wider range of elementary students. Such programs could include: communication technologies (web design, video production, animation, and photography), instrumental music or other opportunities in the Arts. AESA remains open to discussion around possibilities for enhanced programming for elementary students in consultation with Elementary Program and other partners.

        Mr. Hedderson thanked the Board for the opportunity to be present to share the priorities of the Association of Elementary School Administrators.

        In response to a question from Trustee Jackson with regard to window coverings and exit signage to bring all schools into compliance with the Board’s lockdown procedures, Mr. Hedderson stated that in some older schools, the window coverings do not fully close, and during lockdown procedures, window coverings are needed that fully block the windows so no one can see into the school.  He said that he recognizes that window coverings for all schools cannot be completely done at this time, but over the years, he requested that the Board look at this site need.

        Trustee Beavis asked if there was something that the Board is currently providing funding for, that may not be needed so that funding could be provided in one of AESA’s priority needs.

        Mr. Hedderson stated that all of the work AESA does is important.  He said that he doesn’t know an area from where current funding could be taken.  He indicated that with regard to funding for window coverings and exit signage, Principals allocate funds towards that; however, when Principals and Vice-Principals were solicited for areas where they would like funding provided, that particular request came in.  He said that they wanted to make sure we have these things sooner than later.

        Trustee Beavis stated that if Mr. Hedderson could identify an area from where current funding could be taken so that funding could be provided in another area, that would be helpful information for Trustees to have.

        Mr. Hedderson said that he would take Trustee Beavis’ question to AESA’s executive group to see if there are any suggestions as to from where current funding could be taken.

        Trustee Jackson asked where the AESA would put any funding for devices that was provided.  He indicated that currently there are some pilot projects where funding has been provided for devices.

        Mr. Hedderson stated that he has heard positive feedback about the pilot projects, and that Principals would like these devices at their schools.  He said that with regard to technology, Principals would like to have access to LCD projectors and document cameras readily available to all teachers, which in turn helps to make learning visible for students.  He indicated that he believes that this is where they could get the “biggest bang for your buck”.  

        Mr. Hedderson acknowledged the money invested in the increase in licenses for assistive technology, noting that access to assistive technology is critical for students to access.  He said that funding to these areas has been a positive investment in the past.

        Chair French requested that the Superintendent of Business provide the costs for providing window coverings and exit signage.   

        Chair French thanked Mr. Hedderson for providing the above-noted information.

Secondary School Principals and the Secondary Administrators’ Association Organization

        Ted Holden representing the Secondary School Principals and the Secondary Administrators’ Association Organization, was present.  He thanked the Trustees for giving him an opportunity to speak to them this evening about the budget.

        Principal Holden reported that secondary schools are directly allocated funds based on a per-pupil basis, as determined by the Board.  Trustees also allocate funds to support Board-wide initiatives and programs through the Secondary School Central Program Budget.

        Principal Holden stated that with regard to secondary budget allocations, in addition to the operating budgets allocated to each secondary school based on enrolment, these schools also receive support through two other means, Secondary School Central Programs Budget and Other Annual or One-Time Central Allocations.  He reviewed the following information:

Secondary School Central Programs Budget

        This budget is primarily used to support the Board’s Strategic Objective of Student success and achievement levels will be increased (1.1).

        Mr. Holden said that this budget is allocated centrally and Secondary Principals decide how it is spent.  It allows for cost effective use of limited financial resources among schools.  He indicated that the areas that this budget directly supports are as follows:

1.      Co-operative Education
2.      Secondary Curriculum
3.      Cancopy, video, SoCan and other technical licenses
4.      Outdoor Education
5.      Secondary school enrichment programs
6.      Graduation awards and bursaries
7.      The University and College Information Program
8.      Teacher Resource Centre
9.      Secondary extracurricular athletics

Other Annual or One-time Central Allocations

        Mr. Holden indicated that previous annual allocations included those for Information Technology.  One-time allocations typically came as a result of Ministry initiatives.  An example of this was the provision of funding for purchase of new learning resources, such as textbooks, following the release of new curriculum guidelines.
        Mr. Holden reviewed the following information:

Financial Needs for 2012-2013 School Year

Maintenance of the Central Programs Budget is vital to the continued success of Limestone District Secondary Schools.  For Principals, collectively reviewing our financial needs and working together with central funds to address needs with cost efficiency and consistency across secondary schools has been proven to be an effective model.

There are three broad areas in which Principals agree there continues to be pressure and we are unable to provide enough financial support without the central budget.  These areas include: purchase of learning resources, information technology allocations, and classroom equipment and furniture repairs and replacements.

Information Technology Allocations

The information technology allocations were eliminated in the 2011-2012 school year as part of a longer range plan.  These allocations supported individual secondary school acquisition of desktop, laptop and notebook computers, peripherals, software, and other learning resources.  Secondary Principals strongly support Information Technology Services’ five-year plan to centralized these purchases and provide technology upgrades to schools on a rotating basis.

Learning Resources (One Time)
Previous one-time allocations, typically from the Ministry of Education to Boards, to fund the purchase of print materials (including new textbooks to support changes in secondary curriculum) have greatly assisted schools.  Unfortunately these allocations were not provided in 2011-2012.  In the past, textbooks have been a significant portion of the learning resources required, but there now is an increasing need to purchase e-books and other electronic resources to support all students, but in particular, to support students using assistive technologies.  An allocation of $40,000 is needed, in addition to what we have received in the past, to update these resources.

Classroom Equipment and Furniture Repairs and Replacements

Secondary schools have very little funding that can provide for necessary (but mundane) replacement and/or repair of equipment and furniture.  Most classroom furniture, classroom blinds, and other miscellaneous equipment is more than 25 years old and now showing signs of excessive wear and tear.  An additional allocation of $36,000 is requested in this area.

        Mr. Holden stated that secondary Principals wish to acknowledge and thank Trustees for their continued support and hard work, particularly during this difficult budget process in very difficult times.

        Trustee Chadwick asked what the costs are incurred by the Board and high school for the University and College Program Information Night.  Mr. Holden stated that the cost is $500 to fund the location.

        Trustee Jackson stated that there was an interesting presentation at the LCVI School Council meeting with respect to tablet devices in Math and Science classes and how effective they were as compared to textbooks.  He asked Mr. Holden if that would be an area that the Secondary Principals would support.

        Mr. Holden stated that the Secondary Principals support IT’s five-year strategic plan, noting that IT has been running various pilot projects.  He said that a pilot project at Napanee District Secondary School involves netbooks and smart boards.  He said that if you compared a textbook to a tablet, everyone would likely want a tablet.  He stated that IT is running pilot projects to get the answers to that question.

        Superintendent Labrie stated that the pilot projects are experimentation at this time, but we continue to pursue that notion.

        Trustee Beavis asked Mr. Holden if he could identify anything where money could be saved so that money could be directed towards some of the things that the Secondary Principals would like to see in schools.

         Mr. Holden stated that the most expensive item in the Central Program Budget is late busing.  He said that they are requesting that $76,000 be allocated for late busing this year, and last year the amount used was $69,000.  He said that the Secondary Principals would look at that area carefully to see where they could save some money.

        Trustee Jackson stated that some boards are exploring alternative forms of financing, providing the example of Toronto DSB leasing equipment.  He said that in the furniture line, there may be something that we could lease.  He said that we need some time to explore alternative mechanisms.

        Chair French thanked Principal Holden for providing the above-noted information.

Written Submission

Dr, Lindsay Davidson

        Chair French advised that only one written submission was received, which was from Dr.~Lindsay Davidson.  It states, as follows:

“I would like to present some suggestions for your meeting scheduled for Monday, April 20, 2012, as solicited in your advertisement in the Whig-Standard, April 14th.  Given the fiscal contraction that the Board is experiencing, this may be an opportune time to actively pursue alternative funding streams that will allow both maintenance and enhancement of programming, particularly if these may also enhance the student experience (or at least be neutral).  As a parent involved in the Central PARC we have certainly already had some discussions about possibilities including:

1.      Public-private partnerships to use and or re-develop portions of existing school infrastructure – for example construction of a theatre within/adjacent to existing secondary school that could be used by both school and community (fits with City cultural master plan); a health clinic located in one of the schools (models for this exist in other communities) proving primary care, adolescent medicine, nutrition, seniors care?; Senior’s programming (an obvious expanding demographic) – perhaps combine with intergenerational learning and/or workplace training in geriatric care?.

2.      Library-in-school model partnership with KFPL; this might serve multiple purposes including enhancing existing literacy programs, facilitate e-learning (the Library has tremendous resources/support in this area).

3.      Collaboration with other organizations to reduce operating costs (steam plan heating with Queen’s? VOIP telecom system with the City?).

4.      Reduction in transportation budget in collaboration with changes in City transit schedules and policies.

5.      Rental of space at LCVI and QECVI at market-value rates creating innovation, business and arts opportunities co-located in the schools (possible co-op and/or volunteer placements?).

6.      Enhancement of International Student program at KCVI as part of expanded IB program in collaboration with Queen’s International Centre.

]7.     As part of #5, development of for-profit ESL centre (similar to Queen’s School of English).

8.      Redevelopment of portions of excess real estate as lease-hold – affordable housing in QE neighbourhood (partner with City); rebuild of Limestone Education Centre on Portsmouth Avenue as Board offices plus residential tower (St. Lawrence students? Seniors?) generating ongoing income stream for the Board.

9.      Review of income potential from solar energy panels placed on schools in light of recent dramatic decrease in hardware costs – combine with new roofing scheduled for KCVI and LCVI and move these projects up if ROI reasonable – this sort of green initiative may be amenable to public fundraising and/or City support in order to further Kingston’s reputation as Canada’s most sustainable city.  Partner with SLC as the Food Bank did recently – they now generate $10,000/year in revenue from this.  I note that the recent (2011) energy audit of KCVI performed by SLC students identified potential for $87,000/year savings from a rooftop installation with a payback time of under 7 years estimated.

I would suggest that the Board consider hiring an appropriately qualified individual for a term contract to further develop these ideas and develop the necessary relationships, agreements and plans to realize the most suitable and financially attractive options.  This would be a very effective investment, which would be of value to all students in the Board by improving fiscal stability.

I apologize that I am not able to attend in person to present these ideas, but hope that you will consider them.”

        Appended to Dr. Davidson’s letter was an article “Clinic in school boon for families; Pediatric service will benefit parents who can’t take time off” (from the March 23, 2012 edition of the  Toronto Star).

        Trustee Jackson that Dr. Davidson’s letter speaks to partnerships.  He commented that people think they could fill a building, but do not realize that may not create any revenue for the Board.  He suggested after the Kingston North and Central Kingston Intermediate and Secondary Schools PARCs have been reviewed in the fall, that the Board may want to comment on partnerships.  He indicated that people need to know what a partnership involves.

        Trustee Murray noted that there are not many people providing budget submissions to the Board.

Next Meeting Date

        A Committee of the Whole Board (Budget) Meeting to review expenditures is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 2012, at 6:00 p.m., at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, in the Board Room.


        MOVED BY Trustee Chadwick, seconded by Trustee Ruttan, that the meeting adjourn at ~6:25~p.m.–Carried