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November 20, 2013 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
November 20, 2013

A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in Committee Room A at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.             
Present Trustees:
H. Brown, Chair
G. Beavis
H. Chadwick (ex-officio)
A. Goodfellow
D. Jackson
M. McCormac (Student Trustee)
P. Murray
Present Staff:
K. Burra, Supervisor of Safe & Caring Schools and Assistant to the Director
J. Davidson-Harden, Chief Psychologist and Mental Health Lead
B. Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
B. Hunter, Director of Education
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
S. Lehman, Supervising Principal
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
A. McDonnell, Supervising Principal
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary    
Chair Brown called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.  She reported that regrets were received from Trustee Ruttan.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

        Chair Brown reported that there is one additional item, Elementary Administrator Placement and Transfer, to be added to the agenda in Private Session.

MOVED BY Trustee Beavis, that the agenda, as amended, be approved.–Carried

Proposed Process for a Review of the Provision of French Second Language in the Limestone District School Board (Strategic Plan Reference: Item 1.1.1(u)

        Director Hunter reviewed an administrative report regarding the proposed process for a review of the provision of French Second Language in the Limestone District School Board.  She said that the report was distributed to Trustees electronically on Friday, November 13, 2013, noting that a revised report was distributed earlier today to Trustees electronically.  

        The Director stated that the goal of the French review is to ensure high quality, sustainable French as a Second Language (FSL) programs to serve students within the Limestone District School Board.

        Director Hunter reviewed the scope and mandate of the review as follows:

2.1     The review is delegated to the Director of Education in accordance with Policy 2, Role of Board Section 5.3.0 and Policy 3 Role of Director, Section 2.0.
2.2   The outcome of the review will be a final report to the Board from the Senior Staff about the status of FSL in the LDSB, and may include recommendations for action or future direction.
2.3   The Senior Staff will present the final report of the review to the Board through the Education and Human Resources Committee of the LDSB.
2.4   The review will include consideration of elementary and secondary Core, Extended and Immersion French programs throughout the district.
2.5      The review will include consideration of program enrolment, retention and outcomes, locations and catchment areas, transportation, instructional program, professional learning, resources, staffing and finance.
2.6   The review will include opportunities for input from staff, students and parents.
2.7   An external coordinator (or coordinators) shall be contracted to conduct the work of the review, providing specialist services as required, such as reviewing research and other Boards’ French reviews, data collection and analysis, report writing, and if needed, meeting facilitation. The Coordinator(s) shall conduct the review and report to the Senior Staff, or members thereof, periodically throughout the review, and formally through component and final reports. Where possible, the Coordinator(s) will utilize the skills and services of internal personnel to consult and assist in the preparation of various component reports (see Section 3), including but not limited to School Administrators and teachers of Immersion, Extended and Core French, the FSL Program Consultant, the LDSB Program Team, the LDSB Managers of Planning and Human Resources, staffing coordinators, and the LDSB research analyst.  Additional external services may be contracted where necessary due to internal workload considerations, or where external expertise is needed.

        Director Hunter reviewed the proposed structure of the review as follows:

3.1   Overview of Relevant Research and Other Board Reviews on FSL Programming.

3.2     Consultation:

Data will be collected from School Councils, FSL Core, Extended, Immersion, and English language teachers and administrators, students, parents and the public.  Where appropriate, additional consultation may be customized for different stakeholder groups or geographic areas of the district, through electronic, paper communications, or face to face consultation.

3.3   Component Reports:

These reports to the Senior Staff will describe the current status of each area described below, as well as a summary of consultation input, observations, issues, and possible recommendations specific to that area.

Component 1:  What is the current Framework for the provision of FSL Programs in the LDSB? (FSL provincial policy and curriculum requirements, LDSB program types and procedures, general description of current procedures and protocols.)

Component 2:  Who attends our programs? (Enrolment data, trends, graduation and attrition rates, entry points, program locations and catchment areas)

Component 3:   How are our programs supported? (Finance and staffing: grant structure, local resource allocations, hiring data and processes)

Component 4:   Teaching and Learning in our FSL Programs: (Achievement data, instructional delivery models/programs/practices, and  professional learning  approaches)

3.4   Final Report: Summary of Findings and Change Implications:
This report will summarize and synthesize key findings, challenges, and include any recommendations emerging from the review. Some recommendations may require subsequent staff consideration, reports and action, while others may require trustee decision-making, or referral to a subsequent process or committee. Consideration of relevant documents, research, and practices beyond the LDSB may be considered where appropriate to support direction and decision-making. The Senior Staff will present the final report, to the Education/Human Resources Committee. The report will be posted on the Board website.

Director Hunter reviewed timeline and cost information as follows:

4.1    Pending approval, the Review process will begin in January 2014, and be conducted over approximately one year. Extension beyond one year will require the approval of the Board.

4.2.  Funding for all costs associated with the review shall be expended under the direction of the Director of Education.  

        Following a brief discussion, the following motion was brought forward:

        MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, the Education/Human Resources Committee recommends to the Board, that the Board approve the process as presented for a review of the provision of French as a Second Language (FSL) programming within the Limestone District School Board.–Carried

        Chair Brown thanked Director Hunter for providing the above-noted information.

        Director Hunter withdrew from the meeting.

Mental Health Strategy (Strategic Plan Reference: Item 2.2.7)

        Supervising Principal McDonnell introduced Dr. Jennifer Davidson-Harden, the Chief Psychologist and Mental Health Lead for the Limestone District School Board.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden thanked Committee members for inviting her to attend the meeting to speak to them about the mental health strategy.  She said that she had recently taken on the new role of Mental Health Lead for the Board, noting that all school boards in Ontario have someone taking on the Mental Health Lead role to help develop a mental health strategy.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the mental health continuum, from healthy well-being to emotional problems or concerns to mental illness.  She stated that one in five students in Canadian schools struggle with a mental health problem that is severe and persistent and that interferes with their day-to-day functioning.  She reported that in 70% of cases, the onset of problems begins before age 18 with 50% of cases starting before age 14.  She stated that up to 80% of children and youth who experience a mental health problem will not receive treatment, and educators do not feel they have the tools to adequately identify and support students with mental health problems.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the following:

  • Key findings from:  “Building a Better School Environment for Youth with Mental Health and Addictions Issues:
  • The highest ranked resource needed was a designated safe space at school
  • 46% of youth identified stigma as a barrier in their schools to seeking support
  • 26% of youth said mental illness was not addressed in their school curriculum
  • Youth identified the need for adults in schools to improve communication with students struggling with mental illness and addictions
Dr. Davidson-Harden commented that there is a significant relationship between mental health and achievement.  She said that if we are serious about narrowing the gap, we need to understand that students with mental health issues perform less well in school, and frequently disengage over time.

Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the strategy priorities for the first three year, noting that we want to:

  • Reduce child and youth suicides/suicide attempts
  • See educational progress (EQAO)
  • Have fewer school suspensions and/or expulsions
  • Have higher graduation rates
  • Have more professionals trained to identify children’s mental health needs
  • Have higher parent satisfaction in services received
Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the following Ministry of Education Strategy Commitments:

  • Amend the education curriculum to include mental health
  • Develop a K-12 Resource Guide/Website
  • Provide support for professional learning in mental health for all Ontario educators
  • Fund and support Mental Health Leaders
  • Implement School Mental Health Assisted Intervention Suicide Prevention (ASIST)
Dr. Davidson-Harden advised that school mental health ASIST support focuses on:

  • Organizational conditions for effective school mental health
  • Mental health capacity-building for educators
  • Implementation of Evidence-Based Mental health Promotion and Prevention Programming
        Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the Mental Health Capacity-Building Continuum information, as well as the information pertaining to Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Connections.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden stated that schools are an optimal setting in which to:

  • Reduce stigma
  • Promote positive mental health
  • Build student social-emotional learning skills
  • Prevent mental health problems in high risk groups
  • Identify students in need
  • Build pathways to care
Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the protective factors as follows:

  • Problem solving and coping skills
  • Sociability
  • Communication skills
  • A sense of belonging (school, community)
  • Secure attachment to positive parent/family
  • Access to caring and supportive adults
  • Pro-social peers
  • Appropriate discipline, limit setting and structure
  • Opportunities to develop self-esteem
  • Healthy lifestyle
Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed the mental health initiatives in the Limestone DSB.  She also reviewed the next steps as follows:

  • Mental Health Leadership Team
  • Resource Mapping (A means of assessing a board’s needs, strengths and gaps in service.  It will inform organization goals, strategies and expected outcomes.)
  • Development of a Mental Health Strategy
  • Ongoing mental health literacy and awareness for all LDSB staff
  • Evaluation of current mental health initiatives
  • Maintain programs that work and implement additional programs that support positive mental health promotion for staff and students
Chair Brown thanked Dr. Davidson-Harden for providing such an excellent presentation.

Dr. Davidson-Harden and Supervising Principal McDonnell withdrew from the meeting.

Specialist High Skills Major/Focus Programs (Strategic Plan Reference: Item 1.1)

        Supervising Principal Lehman advised that Focus Programs and Specialist High Skills Major programs are part of Expanded Opportunities and Student Success within the Limestone DSB and within the Province of Ontario.  He said that these programs help to meet the needs, interests and strengths of all students, engaging them in learning and better preparing them for graduation and beyond.

        Mr. Lehman reported that Focus programs are packages of courses offered in Limestone DSB secondary schools.  They concentrate on a particular field of interest or training, and they provide students with academic challenge and work-related experience that will assist them in preparing for life after high school.

        Mr. Lehman reviewed the Focus Programs offered by school information for the 2013-2014 school year.  He also reviewed information related to Focus Programs run by pathway, and information related to Focus footprint.

        Supervising Principal Lehman indicated that Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Programs are specialized career-focused programs.  They enable students to acquire technical knowledge and skills and earn relevant certifications in specific economic sectors.  These programs assist students in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

        Mr. Lehman reviewed information related to SHSM growth for the years 2006 to the present, as well as SHSM evolution in the Limestone DSB.  He also provided information related to the SHSM Programs offered for the 2013-2014 school year.

        Mr. Lehman reported that the sectors of the SHSM Programs include:  Arts and Culture; Construction; Environment; Energy; Forestry; Health & Wellness; Hospitality & Tourism; Manufacturing; Transportation; and Sports.

        Mr. Lehman advised that the five components of the SHSM Programs are:  Certifications and Training Programs; Experiential Learning & Career Exploration; “Reach Ahead” Experiences; Essential Skills and work habits; and Bundle of Credits (8-10 credits).

        Supervising Principal Lehman reviewed information related to SHSM Policy Refinement.

        Chair Brown thanked Mr. Lehman for providing the above-noted information.

Update on the Provincial Safe Welcome Program

        Mr. Burra advised that at the October Education/Human Resources Committee meeting, he was asked to provide Committee members with an update related to the provincial government’s Safe Welcome Program in Limestone District School Board at a future meeting

        Mr. Burra stated that the Ministry of Education’s Safe Welcome program was first launched in 2005-2006 for elementary schools across the province to access funds to install external front door locks and other accompanying security devices, such as buzzer systems and security cameras.  He advised that in 2005-2006, these funds were only available for schools where the front door could not be seen from the office of the school, and those schools were required to have locked doors as a condition of funding.  He said that in December 2012, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, the Ministry announced funding to re-open the Safe welcome program for elementary schools.  The new eligibility criteria allows boards up to $3,100 per school to purchase and install security devices in any elementary school that does not have the necessary devices to lock their front door during the school day, regardless of physical site-lines.  Any elementary school accepting funding through this program would be expected to lock their front doors.  Mr. Burra stated that at the February Board meeting, a decision was made that all eligible schools would apply for the provincial funding.

Mr. Burra commented that prior to implementation of the Safe Welcome program, LDSB had seven elementary schools that had secure access to the schools.  Historically, secure access was only put in place in situations where there was a clear abduction concern, or significant safety threat directed toward a specific person.  Controlled access (all doors secured except the main entrance and other high traffic entry points like a daycare or an entrance accessing a portable) was in place at the vast majority of our elementary schools, but had not been mandated centrally.

Mr. Burra stated that, as part of the implementation of Safe Welcome, schools are being outfitted with buzzer/lock release systems, cameras if necessary, and an intercom link between the main office and the front door area.

Mr. Burra advised that currently, 14 LDSB schools have fully implemented Safe Welcome.  Due to abduction and/or safety concerns, half of these schools had secure access already.  Fifteen schools have some equipment installed, but are not yet operational.  The remaining nineteen schools that are eligible for the funding are scheduled to have equipment installed at a later date.  

Mr. Burra commented that schools were provided with information to support implementation:  updates for school councils, a FAQ support document, and written communication to provide to each family explaining the program and its implementation.  While impacting the historical, invitational culture of our schools, the program has been accepted at the schools where it has been implemented.  Effective communication is critical for a smooth transition to the Safe Welcome program.  The other challenge identified from the outset was the potential impact on office staff.  A small work team of administrators, office staff, and central board staff is meeting to try to address concerns expressed by office staff in the implementation of Safe Welcome.  The frequent interruption of the buzzer impacts the focus and other responsibilities of office staff.  

Mr. Burra reported that implementation will continue to be monitored with particular attention to workload concerns, and proactive communication with school communities will continue to be emphasized.  

Private Session

        MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the Education/Human Resources Committee recess to Private Session.–Carried

Public Session

        MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, that the Education/Human Resources Committee recess to Public Session.–Carried
Other Business

        Chair Brown thanked Committee members for attending the meetings and for their work.  She also thanked staff for their excellent reports.

Future Topics

        The tentative topics for future meetings include:

January 15, 2014        Safe Schools Update
                                Dual Credit/OYAP
                                School Year Calendar
                                Public Health Overview of Programs

February 19, 2014       School Year Calendar

March 19, 2013          Integrated Accessibility Standards

April 16, 2014

May 28, 1014            Climate Surveys

        The following topics are also to be included at future meetings, with the timing to be determined:

Early Years Update (FDK, Extended Day, PFLC)
Information Technology Plans
Creating Pathways to Success (Individual Pathway Plan)
34 Credit Threshold
Math Strategies

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, January 15, 2014, at 4:30 p.m


MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the meeting adjourn at 6:00 p.m.–Carried


Elementary Administrator Placement and Transfer

        Karen Handley, currently Principal at École Polson Park Public School, will be transferred to the position of Principal at R.G. Sinclair Public School, effective January 1, 2014.

        Greg Seiveright, currently Vice-Principal at École Polson Park Public School, will be placed as Principal at École Polson Park Public School, effective January 1, 2014.

Public Session

        MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, that the Education/Human Resources Committee recess to Public Session.–Carried