Your browser does not support JavaScript!
March 21, 2013 - School Enrolment/School Capacity Minutes
School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee
March 21, 2013

A meeting of the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board was held in the Barry C. O’Connor Board Room at the Limestone District School Board Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
L. French, Vice-Chair
G. Beavis
H. Brown
H. Chadwick
E.  Crawford
A. Goodfellow
D.  Jackson
B. Milligan, Student Trustee
P.  Murray
S.  Ruttan (via Skype)
Present Staff:
Ruth Bailey, Accommodation Review Facilitator
Myra Baumann, Manager of Financial Services
Barb Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
Tammy Giles, Supervising Principal
Brenda Hunter, Director of Education
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Shawn Lehman, Supervising Principal
Alison McDonnell, Supervising Principal
Roger Richard, Superintendent of Business Services
Karen Smith, Communications Officer
Wayne Toms, Manager, ITS        
Vice-Chair French chaired the meeting.  She called the meeting to order reporting that regrets were received from Student Trustee Yun.  She also indicated that Trustee Ruttan would be joining the meeting via Skype.

Vice-Chair French commented that this evening’s meeting is a regular School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board meeting, noting that the normal protocols for meeting conduct will apply.  She said that, therefore, no comments or input would be received from the gallery.

Vice-Chair French indicated that Trustees appreciate the interest shown from the public.  She commented on some comments that had appeared on social media, noting that they were derogatory, unprofessional and not helpful to the process.  She said that Trustees are early in the process, and that there will still be lots of discussion.  She remarked that Trustees take their role seriously, and that they are committed to having the best outcome for our students.  Vice-Chair French stated that Trustees are moving forward in a most respectful way, and that they have the best interests of students in mind.  

Vice-Chair French thanked Trustees and Senior Staff for their dedication to the process.  

Vice-Chair French said that Trustees will meet for approximately one and a half hours, and then take a break.  She said that there are no formal time frames associated with meetings of this nature.

Conflict of Interest

        No Trustee declared a conflict of interest.

Approval of Agenda

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

Trustee Discussion Re: Central Kingston Accommodation Review

        Vice-Chair French advised that the Senior Staff Follow-up Report was presented Tuesday evening, March 19th.  She said that Trustees want to have a healthy debate, noting that it is unusual to have a lot of gallery.  She said that she wants Trustees to share their thoughts, feelings and questions as they participate in the dialogue.  She asked Trustees how they might want to structure the meetings.

        Trustee Murray indicated that she believes the meetings should be structured, and suggested that the meetings could be broken down into themes, such as funding, transportation, and programming.

        Vice-Chair French indicated that if the meetings are structured into themes, then staff could be allowed time to prepare and respond to questions.  She said that there would be no limitation to discussion, but themes would allow Trustees to coordinate and organize their thoughts.

        Following discussion, Trustees agreed that the meetings be structured into themes.  They decided that the March 25th meeting would include a presentation on programming by Superintendent Labrie.

        Trustee Jackson suggested that capital funding is one area that needs detailed discussion.

        Trustee Crawford stated that the last time she asked about capital funding for a new school, she was told that we had not applied yet.

        Superintendent Richard indicated that the Board has not applied yet.  He said that we are waiting for an announcement from the Ministry of Education  requesting a list of capital priorities for the Board.  He said that following the Ministry’s request, the Board submits its list.  He indicated that the Ministry evaluates all funding requests, and then makes it decisions.

        Director Hunter added that that we have been informed through meetings, that there would likely be an opportunity for boards to apply for capital funding for May, and that the Ministry will respond sometime in November.

        Trustee Murray asked if French Immersion programs and expanded programs would be included in the programming presentation on Monday, March 25th.

        Trustee Chadwick indicated that programming is an integral feature of this whole review.  She indicated that she would like information presented about the programs at Street Smart and Second Chance.

        Trustee Goodfellow indicated that it will likely take Trustees a couple of evenings to go through programming, indicating that she believes all of the above-noted things will have to be discussed.

        Trustee Crawford stated that she would like information about how programming works in K-12 schools provided.

        Trustee Jackson suggested that at the end of each meeting, the discussion schedule be recapped and the discussion plan recalibrated.  

        Trustees asked that the following topics be discussed at future meetings:  programming; enrolment; options around location, walkability, and transportation; rationale for new construction and the rehabilitation model; Focus programs; French Immersion; capital funding; information related to Street Smart and Second Chance programs; and boundary changes.

        The Director indicated that Senior Staff has an information sheet on Focus programs, and that Superintendent Richard has prepared slides related to operating capital, as a beginning.

        Trustee Chadwick stated that there is another area – partnerships, which may fit under the funding discussion.  She said that one question that arose for her as she went through the report is whether the Board wants to be a landlord, and be involved in leasing buildings.

        Trustee Jackson commented on the difference between pre-paid capital lease, and cash in hand at the front end.

        Vice-Chair French stated that Senior Staff would place the topics in sequence and plan the meetings out.

        Trustee Ruttan stated that we have highlighted a lot of areas, and asked if perhaps Trustees could discuss the three-school option.  She said that there was a lot of communication asking why all three schools could not be kept open.  She suggested that Trustees could discuss limitations.

        Vice-Chair French referred to Focus Area 2: Present Schools and Focus Area 3: Three-School Option, and asked if Trustees wanted to review the information from Senior Staff around the pros and cons.

        Trustee Ruttan stated that across the province there are very small secondary schools, with populations of 100 to 200 students.  She indicated that these schools provide a certain amount of programming for students and some students do not have an opportunity to move beyond that school.  She asked what that type of school might look like in Kingston, if we went to a school that had 300 students.  

        Trustee Ruttan commented on the quality of life, and what a small school offers to students in that school.  She said that the students certainly cannot participate in sports, drama clubs, etc. if there are not enough students.  She said that opportunities for field trips may be limited for students in a small school.

        Trustee Jackson commented that a three-school option depends on the assumptions one makes.  He said that in some boards, three comprehensive schools are not possible.  He commented on some schools being more specialized schools, and that they can be very successful.  

        Trustee Chadwick stated that it would be difficult to have one small school in the City and two other larger schools, unless it was set up as a specialized school.  She said that she believes that the majority of students gravitate towards larger schools, especially in terms of offering extracurricular activities.  She indicated that the schools that have the higher populations tend to attract more students, and those schools end up with waiting lists.  Larger schools have more opportunities for students in both programming and extracurricular activities.

        Trustee Jackson stated that if the Board offered an elementary/secondary combination for French Immersion that would be attractive to a fair number of people.  He stated that he is aware that some co-terminus boards have successful small schools and the students do well, noting that our rural education centres will be exemplars of that school.

        Director Hunter stated that there are different types of small themed schools.  Some described in the Senior Staff Report are models of small themed, specialist schools designed for select populations.

Trustee Ruttan stated that the example provided goes against what public education is.  She said that what we focus on is providing education to our whole population.

        Trustee Jackson commented on the small vs. larger school models, noting that we are well aware of the competition, such as private schools.  He commented on Upper Canada College, and its success.  

        Trustee Chadwick stated that in addition to the financial commitment, private schools have an application process.  They have rules, they can do things differently in terms of class participation.  She suggested that is not public education, as private schools do not serve the needs of every student.  

        Trustee Jackson commented on a number of people valuing the concept of a large comprehensive school, noting that LCVI parents and students have a strong preference for that.  He said that there certainly are other public school comparisons, and some are successful.

        Trustee Chadwick stated her support of teacher lead or teacher guided classrooms.  She said that teachers are developing critical thinking skills and teaching how to ask questions to 13 and 14 year olds, and that is important.  She said that providing them with on-line courses will not be effective.

        Trustee Goodfellow said that we accept all children into our schools, indicating that many of our students cannot learn on-line.  She said that we have to be welcoming to all students.  She commented that we are not a private school board; we are a public school board and we must remember that we are.

        Trustee Jackson stated that he is not endorsing private schools.  He noted that we have a lot of resources for children with special education needs.  He reiterated that he does not endorse the private school model, but recognizes it is a competitor.  He commented that there are also public competitors, such as the Catholic school system, which has a different set of values.  He stated that he is not taking away from the valuable work we do.  He said that as we craft a solution, we need to look at the things going on out there.  He commented that having an individual teacher present is important.

        Trustee Ruttan commented that as Trustees make a decision they will need to prioritize how they feel.  She said that when we think about the three school option, we need to think about what is best for our schools in our community.  
        Vice-Chair French stated that we have an inventory around Focus programs, and she would like an update on what we presently have for e-learning.

        Trustee Murray requested information on other kinds of publicly funded technical schools.  Director Hunter indicated that specific examples would be brought forward at a future meeting.  She commented that in Brockville, one small high school focuses mainly on academic programs.  She said that the other school is a composite school and that the small school is a more specialized site.  

        Student Trustee Milligan stated that personally he would not support a specialized school.  He commented on the importance of learning within a diverse environment, indicating that it is an important part of our education.  He said that there are many different programming areas at his school, and he enjoys interacting with students in the other areas.  He said that there are many course offerings at his school.  He said that it is important for every student to have an opportunity to interact with everyone else.

        Trustee Jackson stated that it is his impression that a composite school works well at LCVI.  He commented that at the elementary level we have comprehensive schools, where there are also specialized programs, such as French Immersion.  He said that on one side, specialized schools do extremely well and that increases the achievement statistics.  He said that we need to be extremely careful as we evaluate our options.

        Trustee Ruttan asked when the Board started to see that three high schools in Kingston were not sustainable.  Director Hunter stated that the Board has tried to solve the problem of declining enrolment for decades.  She indicated what the Board has done to prop up enrolment since that time, including placing French Immersion at KCVI and Focus programs at QECVI.

        Trustee Brown thanked Student Trustee Milligan for expressing his views so well about his school.  She said that she knows that diversity is important, noting that she came through an era where students with special education needs were isolated and put in separate buildings.   She said that we now know how much better students did when we brought them into the main population.  She remarked that where there is a larger population, there are more course offerings and extracurricular activities.

        Trustee Murray asked if there was a magic number that would make a school work.  The Director indicated that the number was ideally around 700 students.

        Trustee Chadwick requested information around the specialized nature of space for Focus programs, noting that the square footage is an important piece of that.  Director Hunter stated that she would provide the information.

        Vice-Chair French called a 10-minute recess at 7:20 p.m.  She said that following the break Trustees would formulate questions in advance for Monday night’s meeting.

The meeting reconvened at 7:30 p.m.

Vice-Chair French indicated that discussion around programming with regard to Street Smart and Second Chance would be held Monday night.  The Director stated that this information can be found in the Senior Staff Report.  She said that the information could be reviewed at Monday night’s meeting.

Trustee Chadwick indicated that some Focus programs are offered at alternative sites.  She asked if students in the Focus programs are going directly to their sites, or do they also require dedicated school space. The Director stated that she would respond to that as well at the next meeting.

In response to a question from Trustee Chadwick, Director Hunter stated that she would provide information indicating which schools students in French Immersion programs come from.

School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board to Rise and Report

MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, seconded by Trustee Brown, that the School Enrolment/School Capacity Committee of the Whole Board rise and report.–Carried


MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, seconded by Trustee Goodfellow, that the meeting adjourn at 7:50 p.m.–Carried