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September 16, 2009 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
September 16, 2009

A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.                      
Present Trustees:
G. Beavis, Chair
G. Beavis
H. Chadwick
D. Jackson
B. McLaren
Present Staff:
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
S. McWilliams, Manager, Human Resources
B. Woodley, Supervising Principal and Executive Assistant
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary     
Chair Beavis called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.  He reported that regrets were received from Trustee Goodfellow.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

MOVED BY Trustee McLaren, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried


Superintendent Marsh introduced Tim Orpin, K-12 ITS/MISA Consultant, and Karen Irvine, Grade 7-12 Math Curriculum Consultant, who are new to her department.

EQAO Results

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the 2009 Highlights of the EQAO Primary and Junior Assessments, noting that the results were embargoed until Thursday, September 17, 2009.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Grade 3 Score Distribution and the Grade 3 Results Over Time.  She reported that in Grade 3, the percentage of all eligible students who achieved the provincial standard increased by three percentage points to 62% in Writing, and increased by three percentage points to 66% in Mathematics, and declined by one percentage point to 56% in Reading.  She indicated that the provincial results for Grade 3 Reading were 61%.  Superintendent Marsh advised that there are a number of LDSB Grade 3 students at Level 2 in Reading, but for students to pass Grade 3 testing, they have to be at Level 3. Superintendent Marsh stated that by Grade 6 those student at level 2 in Grade 3, through interventions, could potentially achieve the provincial standard of Level 3.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Grade 6 Score Distribution and Grade 6 Results Over Time.  She reported that of students eligible to write the assessment, the percentage of all eligible Grade 6 students who met or exceeded the provincial standard increased by seven percentage points to 70% in Reading, increased by one percentage point to 63% in Writing, and increased by two percentage points to 56% in Mathematics.

Superintendent Marsh said that this year, the percentage of Grade 6 students achieving the provincial standard in all three EQAO assessment has increased, and a higher percentage of these students have met the standard in Reading and Writing since they wrote the Grade 3 provincial assessments in 2006.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Student Survey Results in Grade 3 and in Grade 6.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the next steps and areas to acknowledge, as follows:

Next Steps – Grade 3

•       Continue efforts with focused attention on Reading, Writing and Mathematics through Board-wide strategies (e.g. Elementary Literacy Coach, Networking of Communities of Schools, Grade 3-6 numeracy facilitator)

Next Steps – Grade 6

•       Continue efforts with focused attention on Reading, Writing and Mathematics through Board-wide strategies (e.g. Pilot Projects in Families of Schools for Breakthrough Math, Networking Communities of Schools, Grade 3-6 numeracy facilitator)

Areas to Acknowledge

•       Improved results in Writing and Mathematics in both grades 3 and 6
•       Grade 6 Reading results exceeded the provincial average for the first time in the past five years
•       Across the Board, reduction in the percentage of students achieving at or below Level 1
•       The performance of our students with special needs

Trustee McLaren expressed concern about the poorly written books used in Novel Studies.  Superintendent Marsh indicated that she would pass Trustee McLaren’s concern onto Superintendent Fraser-Stiff.

In response to comments by Trustee Jackson regarding textbooks being provided in the United States in electronic format at no cost to students, Superintendent Labrie commented on a pilot project that is being done at Napanee District Secondary School and Westdale Park Public School wherein various technologies are being used to see which ones would best support student success.  He said that he would provide a more detailed report on the pilot project at a future meeting.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the 2008 Highlights of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).

Superintendent stated that the percentage of first-time eligible students who participated fully in the OSSLT were the same for both LDSB and the Province at 93%.  She indicated that 82% of LDSB students were successful, and the results for the Province was 85%.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the 2008 Highlights of the EQAO Grade 9 Mathematics.   She reviewed the Board and Provincial Achievement Over Time and Applied Results Over Time information.

Superintendent Marsh reported that of the Limestone students who participated in the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics, 75% achieved the provincial standard in Academic Mathematics and 38% achieved the provincial standard in Applied Mathematics.  She said that the gap between the results of the Applied and Academic assessments is consistent across the province, noting that while the gap has closed over the past five years, it remains a focus for improvement in Limestone and in the Province.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Student Survey Results regarding the Grade 9 Mathematics Assessment.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Areas to Acknowledge, as follows:

•       Improved achievement in Grade 9 Mathematics and the OSSLT
•       Improved attitudes towards Mathematics in the Applied and Academic Assessments
•       The achievement of LDSB students with special needs
•       The percentage of students participating in the OSSLT increased by 1%

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Next Steps, as follows:

•       School Improvement Teams will analyze the results for each school – (achievement and anecdotal) to inform the School Improvement Plan and Professional Learning needs
•       Language literacy and mathematical literacy coaching will support teachers in Mathematics instruction and assessment in Grades 7-9 in select schools
•       Continue with Breakthrough Math in family of schools groupings for teachers of Grades 7-12
•       Continue with Language Literacy Instruction Focus Team (LLIFT) for select family of schools to support the implementation of high yield strategies in Grades 7-2 Academic and Applied programming
•       Continue with summer literacy camps and language literacy tutors
•       Province assessment and evaluation learning series for teachers

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the Key Dates, as follows:

September 17 – Provincial, board and school results released publicly by EQAO
September 21-25 – School received Individual Student Reports
September 23-30 – Additional reports released to schools to support school improvement planning
October/November – Principals will share EQAO results with School Councils

Chair Beavis thanked Superintendent Marsh for providing the above-noted information.

Safe Schools Report

Supervising Principal and Executive Assistant Woodley provided information about the LDSB 2008-2009 Long-Term Suspension/Expulsion Program.

Ms Woodley stated that on February 1, 2008, changes to the Education Act, Part XIII: Behaviour, Discipline and Safety, required Boards of Education to provide a program for students on long term suspension and expulsion.  She advised that the Ministry of Education (MOE) provided Boards with funding to implement the program, provide prevention and intervention strategies, and hire paraprofessional staff.  During the 2007-2008 school year the funding was allocated through a special grant to the Board, and in subsequent years, the funding was allocated through the GSN with a reduction factored in due to declining enrolment.

Ms. Woodley advised that a Request for Proposal (RFP) process was undertaken to find a service provider for the program and in October 2008, the Board approved Youth Diversion as the LDSB service provider.

Ms. Woodley reported that the MOE does not provide funding for transportation of students to the LTS/Expulsion program.  She indicated that for students unable to access the program due to transportation issues, LDSB provides an itinerant program for the student in the student’s community.

Ms. Woodley advised that the funding contributed to the following programs, interventions and supports: Suspension/Expulsion Program at Youth Diversion, itinerant expulsion program for students in rural areas, substance abuse counseling through KAIROS and L&A Addictions and Community Mental Health, Behaviour Action Team (BATeam) staff, Community threat assessments, forensic assessments, legal fees, return/transition support for students returning from expulsion.

Ms. Woodley said that the Long-Term Suspension/Expulsion Program is supported by the LDSB Itinerant teacher of Safe Schools who is responsible for the academic components of the students’ programs.  The student support counselor from the BATeam at Educational Services
is responsible for liaison with the school, parents and the program, provides support with developing the student action plan and provides transition support for students returning to school at the successful completion of the program. The staff at Youth Diversion are responsible for supervising students at the Robert Meek site, participating in the development of the Student Action Plans, delivering the non-academic components of the program, providing liaison with the Supervising Principal of LDSB responsible for Safe Schools.

Ms. Woodley reviewed the non-academic program components.  She advised that cognitive skill building consists of work in the areas identified through the risk/need assessment, and is provided by Program staff and other Children and Youth Service Providers, as appropriate. Programming follows best practice, and includes such skills as victim sensitivity, empathy, stress reduction, anger management, conflict resolution, communication, as well as other areas of concern. Partnerships with other youth serving agencies is utilized for specific counseling as appropriate (substance use, TAPP-C, employment readiness, etc).  Ms. Woodley stated that an active living
component also forms part of the daily routine.  

Ms. Woodley commented that the majority of the student’s work is done independently with the support of staff, though on occasion and as appropriate, group activities are utilized to enhance social skills.  The delivery of the skills matches the learning style of each student, and respects identified learning challenges and issues. Volunteers are extensively used in order to maximize the student’s learning potential, and to add to the supervision in the classroom.

Ms. Woodley provided information about intake and assessment.  She remarked that upon
receipt of a referral, Youth Diversion staff will meet with the student and conduct a risk needs assessment.  The referring school administration contacts Program staff and advises of the nature of the behaviour, previous disciplinary measures, the existence of an Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.), any mitigating factors, and any other information deemed appropriate.  Program staff in collaboration with school administration develop an individual program delivery model is included in the Student Action Plan (S.A.P.)

Ms. Woodley advised that intake is continual, with staff responding to school administrators within 2 hours of initial contact.  After hours voice mail is monitored, and urgent calls will be returned as required.  She said that program staff also participate and provide support as necessary for any threat assessment process undertaken by the Board, and in accordance with the Threat Assessment Protocol.

Ms. Woodley provided information about staffing.  She said that the Program is staffed by a coordinator with a university degree in Behavioural Psychology and experience working with suspended and expelled youth.  The coordinator also possesses CPR and First Aid certification, and
certification in non-violent crisis intervention.  This position is supported by the volunteer manager (PAVR-O certified) and supervised by the Executive Director (M.Ed.).  Trained volunteers assist in all aspects of program delivery. All volunteers undergo a rigorous screening, orientation and training process.

Ms. Woodley commented on student confidentiality.  She indicated that the organization complies with all provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and
the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Student files are kept in a locked cabinet and destroyed according to the relevant organization policy and legislation. The organization also has policies on file storage, client discussions, electronic messaging, media attention, public visitation, and photographs. These policies are updated on an annual basis as required, and monitored by the organization’s Board of Directors.

Ms. Woodley reported that the Youth Diversion Program has committed several staff to Level 1 and Level 2 Threat Assessment Training sponsored by the Limestone District School Board and participates actively in responding to school safety issues.  Staff have developed and implemented the MEND approach to reducing school violence.  Students and staff receive training in applying the principles of restorative practice in the school environment. Where requested, staff
participate in safe school related presentations on topics such as bullying, cyber-bullying, youth justice system, and parenting.

Ms. Woodley provided information about the Student Action Plan (S.A.P.).  She said that upon suspension, the school contacts Youth Diversion staff to assist in program placement.  Staff of the Program participate as requested in the development of the S.A.P., and the Plan forms the basis for both academic and non-academic interventions.  For youth on suspension for greater than 6 days, weekly progress reports are provided to the referring school. For youth on expulsion, these reports are provided monthly.  At the end of the suspension/expulsion, a readmission report is provided, outlining accomplishments, recommendations for continued support and follow-up, and concerns. These progress reports allow for continual monitoring of the student’s progress, and assist in the modification of the SAP as required.

Ms. Woodley reported that services are provided at 559 Bagot Street, Kingston, Ontario.  In rural areas where attending the Youth Diversion Program would be difficult or would create an undue hardship, Program staff provide support to the school to either:

• Provide the student with an in school program; or,

• Provide the student with a home program.

Ms. Woodley said that in either case, Program staff will provide the necessary materials for the student, as well as monitoring support as the materials are completed.

Ms. Woodley said that 559 Bagot Street is the old Robert Meek Public School, a building declared surplus by the LDSB and purchased by the Kingston and Area Boys and Girls Club. The building currently provides educational and recreational services to over 200 children and youth each day. The building is equipped with a modern and annually inspected monitored fire alarm and sprinkler system. Emergency procedures are posted in all rooms in the building. When closed, the building and contents are secured through a monitored alarm system.  Arrangements have been made to co-locate the Program in the Boys and Girls Club’s newly developed Education Centre. The use of volunteers ensures that student/adult ratio never exceeds 2:1.

Ms. Woodley provided information on the hours of availability and capacity.  She said that the Program operates from 8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on all regular school days.  Program staff are available from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., then on call throughout the evening to support students, as well as be a resource for school administrators.  The capacity of the Program is 10 students, although
flexibility in program delivery may allow that number to increase. Access to the program is determined by number of students attending and also the “mix” of the students. Safety of students and staff will be paramount when determining a student’s placement.

Ms. Woodley stated that although the Youth Diversion Program has operated an alternative to suspension program, the Student in Need Attendance Program (SNAP), for over 13 years, the academic and non-academic requirements of Bill 212 in relation to long-term suspensions and expulsions called for a significant overhaul of the program.  This was accomplished through the hiring of a Behavioural Analyst, and the provision of an itinerant teacher from LDSB
and a counselor from the BATeam.  With fifty-one (51) students meeting the requirements of long term suspension and expulsion, the volume was greater than anticipated. Finally, the move to a full day expulsion program created complexities that required dynamic and continual planning.

Ms. Woodley stated that despite these issues, S.N.A.P. served a total of 155 students from the LDSB.  The students participating in the program were, by definition, some of the most oppositional, aggressive, violent, and high risk students of the Board. Yet, considerable positive outcomes were achieved:

Ms. Woodley provided information about student safety, as follows:

•       No student suffered physical harm as a result of placement, and no student was physically restrained
•       Staff attended almost all risk and threat assessments conducted on students referred to the Program;
•       Screening occurred daily for weapons; only two weapons were detected and confiscated; and,
•       A Safety audit was conducted and changes were made to improve the safety of all people in the building.

Ms. Woodley provided information about academic progress, as follows:

•       The itinerant teacher was able to broaden the access and choice of academic courses
•       Students were able to complete considerable credits through the assigned teacher;
•       Volunteers provided enhanced levels of tutoring ensuring academic success; and,
•       The assignment of the Student Support Counselor, Derek Joynt, was an integral component for the successful transitions from school, and for the return to school.

Ms. Woodley provided information about the non-academic component of the Program, as follows:

•       An evidence-based, individualized cognitive behavioural intervention strategy was implemented for each student;
•       An enhanced level of clinical intervention was provided through placement students from the Behavioural Psychology Program and other programs at St. Lawrence College, as well as Teacher Candidates from the Queen’s University Faculty of Education.
•       The resources for responding to a broader range of behavioural issues were developed and made available to the students; and,
•       Frequent and regular reports were provided on the students’ progress in the non-academic component.

Ms. Woodley provided information about transitions, as follows:

•       The close collaboration with, and shared resources from the LDSB Educational Services department, Kairos, Probation Services, and other service providers were crucial to the successful return for students;
•       A graduation ceremony for grade 8 students was held in order to ensure this important educational rite of passage occurred for these students;
•       Strong communication with school administrators, and the flexibility demonstrated by the accepting schools enabled planning to focus on student success in the transition; and,
•       In July and August 2009, planning is being undertaken to accommodate those students who were unable to be safely transitioned to a regular educational program.

Ms. Woodley provided information about the Student Action Plans (S.A.P.), as follows:

•       SAP’s were very beneficial in that they gave students an ongoing and updated view of the expectations that the school had for their successful return;
•       SAP’s were critically important for designing and implementing individualized non-academic components of the service;
•       School administrators collaborated with Student Support Counselors ensuring that SAP’s were focused on student success; and,
•       SAP’s contained vital information for the development of behaviour and safety plans,

Ms. Woodley provided information about the lengths of service and the reasons for removal from school.  She also provided a list of the numbers of students expelled during the 2008-2009 school year.

MOVED BY Trustee Brown, that the Safe Schools report be received.–Carried

Chair Beavis thanked Ms. Woodley for providing the above-noted information.

Other Business

In response to a question by Trustee Jackson regarding student accident insurance fees, Superintendent Labrie indicated that he would follow-up this matter.

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.

MOVED BY Trustee McLaren, that the meeting adjourn at 5:40 p.m.–Carried