The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) is pleased to announce the appointment of W.R. (Rusty) Hick as the Association's new Executive Director. Mr. Hick will succeed Gail Anderson who is retiring from the role in July after a rewarding career in public education.
Rusty Hick will join OPSBA on June 1, 2017 to assume the role of Executive Director following OPSBA’s Annual General Meeting.
MPPs were off on a constituency week from April 17 to 21, 2017 and returned to the Ontario Legislature on April 24. The following is an update on recent items.
Rural and Remote Education ReviewOn April 21, the Ministry of Education released details for their consultation regarding Ontario's Rural Education Strategy. Ten consultations will occur across the province beginning May 5 and ending May 26, 2017. The consultations will include daytime sessions with school boards and municipalities (including student trustees) and evening community town halls. In addition to the in-person meetings, the ministry has posted a document entitled, Supporting Students and Communities: A Discussion Paper to Strengthen Education in Ontario's Rural and Remote Communities. Feedback can be given via the online discussion paper and all comments are due June 9, 2017. OPSBA will be discussing the paper at an upcoming Policy Development Work Team meeting and drafting a submission. We will also encourage trustees and school board staff to attend a relevant nearby session and/or participate in the online discussion paper.
The dates and locations are:
Background: On Monday March 6, 2017 a letter was sent to school boards and municipalities from Education Minister Mitzie Hunter and Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli. The letter address "impacts of recent pupil accommodation reviews" and announces the creation of a Rural and Remote Education Review. Three parliamentary assistants have been appointed to lead engagement and research gathering on how to sustain a strong education system in rural and remote Ontario. These individuals are: Education PA Granville Anderson; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs PA Grant Crack; and Municipal Affairs PA Lou Rinaldi.
Bill 65, Safer School Zones Act, 2016Transportation Minister Steve Del Duca introduced the government's photo radar legislation, Bill 65, Safer School Zones Act on November 15, 2016. The bill would provide municipalities with the option to use three road safety tools:
The bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government and will have public hearings on April 24, 2017 and April 26, 2017. Written submissions need to be sent to the clerk by end of day Wednesday (5 pm) and can be sent directly to Sylwia Przezdziecki .
OPSBA`s letter will include the following comments and questions:
Every year during Education Week, the contributions of students, parents, teachers and education workers are recognized. This year, Education Week will be held from May 1 to 5, and marks another significant milestone
– Canada’s and Ontario's 150th anniversary. As a result, the theme of this year's Education Week will be Ontario 150.
To mark this anniversary, Ontario is supporting events and programs that showcase our diverse communities and encourage Ontarians to get involved. Many of these initiatives focus on engaging youth.
The government has also created many resources to help communities celebrate and reflect throughout the year. One of those resources is a song called A Place to Stand. Sheet music and lyrics in both English and French have been shared with school boards across the province so schools can create their own version of the song. During Education Week, creative performances of A Place to Stand will be profiled on social media. Schools can share their version on Twitter and Facebook using #Ontario150.
On April 21, 2017, the Ministry of Education released details for their upcoming consultation on Ontario's Rural Education Strategy.
Ten consultations will occur across the province beginning May 5 and ending May 26, 2017. The consultations will include invitation-only daytime sessions with school boards and municipalities (including student trustees) and public community town halls in the evening. In addition to the in-person meetings, the ministry has posted a document entitled Supporting Students and Communities: A Discussion Paper to Strengthen Education in Ontario's Rural and Remote Communities. Feedback can be given via the online discussion paper. All comments are due June 9, 2017. OPSBA will be discussing the paper at an upcoming Policy Development Work Team meeting and drafting a submission.
The dates* and locations of the public consultations are:
*All public town halls run from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The town halls will focus on the following themes:
On March 6, 2017, a letter was sent to school boards and municipalities from Education Minister Mitzie Hunter and Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli. The letter addressed the "impacts of recent pupil accommodation reviews" and announced the creation of a Rural and Remote Education Review.
Three parliamentary assistants have been appointed to lead engagement and research gathering on how to sustain a strong education system in rural and remote Ontario. These MPPS are: Education PA: Granville Anderson; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs PA: Grant Crack; and Municipal Affairs PA Lou Rinaldi.
Click here for the Ministry news release
The OPSBA Board of Directors held a meeting on April 21 and 22, 2017.
Dr. Karen Grose, Vice-President, Digital Learning at TVO, presented to the board on the evening of April 21, providing an overview of the broadcaster's products and services, with a specific focus on their digital offerings. She noted mPower, Teach Ontario, Homework Help and TVO Kids digital games. The board was invited to participate in a hands-on demonstration of some of TVO's online products.
Education policy and program issues that were discussed at the meeting are summarized below.
Labour Relations A confidential report was provided on developments in the labour relations and collective bargaining sector.
Communications and Media Relations Updates on the following issues were provided:
Finance Updates were provided on the School Energy Coalition and the next steps with regards to the review of student transportation. In response to the Auditor General's recommendation that the Ministry of Education revisit the current student transportation funding formula, the ministry will proceed with a 12 to 18-month multi-stakeholder engagement to solicit input and feedback to renew the vision of student transportation in Ontario.
The Ministry released information regarding education funding (Grants for Student Needs [GSN]) on April 12, 2017. Investments in Ontario's publicly-funded education system continue to increase from $23 billion in 2016-17 to $23.8 billion in 2017-18. Per-pupil funding is projected to increase in 2017-18 to $12,100 – an increase of 68 per cent since 2002-03. The 2017-18 GSN reflects implementation of recently ratified labour agreements. The announcement showed increased funding to support Special Education, Indigenous student achievement, school infrastructure, and student transportation. OPSBA will continue to address pressures related to excess capacity and programming needs through pupil accommodation reviews with the phase out of top-up funding under the Ministry's School Board Efficiencies and Modernization Strategy (SBEM) and growing student transportation costs. The provincial budget will be released on April 27, 2017.
Copyright An update on copyright regulations and activities was provided. In the fall of 2016, OPSBA electronically distributed a bundle of materials developed by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. These materials will help aid school boards in keeping staff advised about copyright requirements. The Copyright Decision Tool was also noted and an overview of the new prohibition on copying of consumables was given.
Community Hubs OPSBA staff and a number of member board trustees are participating in the Ontario Community Hubs Summit on May 1 and 2 at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. On April 4, Minister Hunter announced the government is seeking to preserve local community services for families in Toronto by proposing to acquire two facilities from the TDSB that would be maintained as community hubs. The March 6 memo announcing a provide-wide engagement on education in rural and remote communities also included a review of progress made with regards to supporting community hubs, noting investments in capital funding for community hub school retrofits and upcoming funding for community replacement space.
Legislature and Government Relations An update on activities of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was provided. The House will rise for the summer recess after June 1, 2017. Current Bills relevant to the education sector include: Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario's Municipal Legislation Act; Bill 90, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (School Safety Zones); Bill 94, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (School Bus Camera Safety Systems); Bill 114, Anti-Racism Act; and the Construction Lien Act. The Ministry of Education's upcoming Rural and Remote Education Review has been of great interest to Ontario school boards and OPSBA has reached out to the Minister's Office to learn more about the timing, process and how boards and trustees can be part of this review. The consultation will include stakeholder and public town hall meetings in rural areas across the province. Feedback is due June 9, 2017.
Early Years/Middle Years An overview of recent announcements and activities related to Ontario's Early Years and Middle Years strategies was provided. A new provincial framework for the early years and child care will be released in May. In early March, OPSBA facilitated a conference call between the Ministry of Education and Early Years leads regarding before-and-after-school care for children ages six-to-12. OPSBA will be following up with school boards regarding the September 2017 implementation date. Ministry contacts have confirmed the federal child care budget will assist with facilitating new growth in child care spaces and help low-income families access services.
Healthy Schools Working Table OPSBA staff attended a Healthy Schools Working Table meeting hosted by the Ministry's Healthy Schools Unit/Safe Schools and Student Well-Being Branch on March 29. The agenda included updates on concussions, medical conditions, student injury prevention and future funding for Physical Activity in Secondary Schools Grants. It was noted that the main part of the day concentrated on a proposed review of the Daily Physical Activity (DPA) requirement for school boards, with changes that could be in effect by September 2017.
Indigenous Trustees Council (ITC) Peter Garrow, OPSBA's First Nations Director, delivered an update on the ITC's recent actions and advocacy. OPSBA has received funding to act as the lead on developing a new module for the Trustee Professional Development Program on educating trustees about the real history of Indigenous peoples in Ontario, as well as highlighting best practices in Ontario school boards that are moving us towards reconciliation. He also provided updates on the work of the Well-Being Subcommittee of the Minister's Advisory Council on FNMI Education Working Group and the development of new curriculum to address the Calls to Action of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Well-Being Engagement Paper Response The Ministry released its Well-Being Engagement Paper in November 2016. OPSBA, through the Education Program Work Team, created an online survey that teams of trustees and board staff from boards were requested to complete. A summary report with recommendations and guiding principles was created and forwarded to the Ministry. The Ontario Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health also utilized the results to submit their own report, which reinforced many of the principles contained within OPSBA's submission.
Ontario's Special Needs Strategy The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is leading Ontario's Special Needs Strategy for Children and Youth. Steps are being taken to support children and youth with special needs to get the timely and effective services they need at home, in school, and in the community, as they transition to adulthood. This is a multi-ministerial strategy that includes Education, Health and Long-Term Care and Community and Social Services.
Minister's Advisory Council for Special Education (MACSE) Cheryl Lovell, OPSBA's representative on MACSE, provided an update on recent activities related to the advisory council.
Education Labour Relations and Human Resources Conference An overview of the recent Education Labour Relations and Human Resources Conference was provided. Participants viewed the event as informative and engaging.
Register now for CSBA Congress 2017 and the National Trustee Gathering on Aboriginal Education
Diploma in School Board Administration, OASBO
Education Law Newsletter, Miller Thomson LLP
Game-Based Online Math Resource
Guide to Accessible Festivals and Outdoor Events
Health & Safety Training, PSHSA
Health & Safety Newsroom, PSHSA
Professional Development Catalogue, OPC
Morning Recess Webinar Series, Miller Thomson LLP
TeachOntario, "Creating Authentic Learning Ecosystems" (eBook), TVO
Ontario Partnering with Tech Leaders to Improve Public Services, Apr. 5, 2017
Preparing Students to Thrive in Ontario's Innovative Economy, Mar. 23, 2017
Ontario Combatting Systemic Racism and Breaking Down Barriers, Mar. 7, 2017
Statement from the Minister of the Status of Women on International Women's Week, Mar. 6, 2017
OPSBA Media Release, OPSBA appoints new Executive Director, Apr. 28, 2017
OPSBA Media Release, Students Benefit from Stable Funding, Apr. 12, 2017
Trustees deserve support, not trashingRe: School trustees have lost public trust — and outlived their role, Cohn, April 17OPSBA President Laurie French, Readers' Letters, The Star, Apr. 19, 2017Once again, a giant and unjust leap of logic on the part of Martin Regg Cohn. His latest column, as have two previous ones, takes the reader from his fair criticism of the actions of some trustees in a school board to a universal call of “off with their heads!” for all 700 school trustees in Ontario.More...
Province boosts education funding to $24B for next school yearAndrea Gordon, The Star, Apr. 13, 2017Ontario is increasing education spending by almost 4 per cent to $23.8 billion in the next school year, with a focus on providing more special education support and reducing class sizes, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter announced Wednesday.
Please see the following updated OPSBA summaries indicated below for information regarding Ministry of Education 2017 Memoranda B02 and B03; and SB07 and SB08.
2017 B Memoranda (funding policy, financial matters)
2017 SB Memoranda (administrative information, clarification on financial matters)
2016 B Memoranda
2016 SB Memoranda
Ministry of Education Memoranda
B and SB Memoranda
Last year, TVO introduced mPower for Kindergarten to Grade 2. It is now available for Grades 3 to 6. mPower is a fun, innovative, online game-based resource that engages students in problem-solving and critical thinking through math.
For Grades 7 to 12: Over the last few months, TVO received a number of requests specifically from Grade 7-12 educators, for a quick and easy way to be aware of and access TVO's free films, documentaries and interviews to support teaching and learning in their classrooms. Educators are more than welcome to join TVO's Current Affairs and Documentaries community by signing up for the TVO newsletter. In doing so, educators receive links to in-depth current affairs coverage, Steve Paikin's blog and a preview of the evening's documentary. Newsletters are delivered straight to email inboxes Monday through Saturday.
OPSBA Connects is the Ontario Public School Boards' Association's online newsletter, providing the province's public education sector with the news needed to make informed decisions on the issues that matter to students and their families.