advocacy and action

Fast Report: March 30, 2012 | Vol. 24, No. 9

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24th AGM & PROGRAM 2012

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Thursday, June 7 — Saturday, June 9, 2012

Valhalla Inn
1 Valhalla Inn Road
Thunder Bay  

HOSTED BY OPSBA'S NORTERN REGION

EXPERIENCE A WARM, NORTHERN WELCOME at this year's AGM

 

The new online registration process is now available. This will make registering for conferences easier and more efficient for you!

Welcome reception: Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

Conference ends: Saturday, June 9, 2012, after dinner. 

Guest/Spouse tours are offered this year. To book your tour, please see the online registration form.

 

OPSBA'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

  • Board Meeting starts:  1:00 p.m., Thursday, June 7
  • Board Organizational Meeting:  8:30 - 9:30 a.m., SUNDAY, June 10

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • DAVID BOUCHARD - "The Love of Reading"

 OTHER SESSIONS AND WORKSHOPS::

  • Creating Safe and Caring School Communities
  • Engaging Students and Families through a Strength Based Approach to Learning
  • Successful Integration of the First Nation Culture, Heritage and Language at Ear Falls Public School
  • Combating Bullying Through Restorative Practise: A School, System and Community Approach
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
  • Bystander CPR and Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) Usage in Our Schools
  • Finance and Labour Relations
  • The Role of the Student Trustee
  • Update on Current Legal Issues
  • Emerging Issues in Education
  • Regional Elections

FRIDAY - join your colleagues for an evening at Fort William Historical Park

Fort William Historical Park is recognized as one of the Top Ten Attractions in Canada and one of the world’s most impressive historic sites. It is one of the largest living history attractions in North America, devoted to re-creating the days of the North West Company.

Walking Tour and light supper at Fort William.

Transportation provided. 

 

When:

June 7—9, 2012

Where:

Valhalla Inn
1 Valhalla Inn Road
Thunder Bay 

Who:

Trustees, Directors of Education, supervisory officers, student trustees and other board members are encouraged to attend this annual OPSBA conference.

Hotel:

Reservations can be made ONLINE or by calling the hotel directly at 1-800-964-1121  or  (807) 577-1121.  Please quote the OPSBA  booking number 801272 for the special rate.

HOTEL CUT-OFF DATE:

May 7, 2012

After the deadline date, the special conference rate will be provided on a space available basis only.


Check OPSBA's Fast Reports for regular updates and future announcements.

NEW on-line Registration process

Program Outline

For more information: Gail Anderson, Executive Director, ext.109; Ernesta Graham, Events Coordinator, ext.115; Susan Weinberg, Policy and Professional Development Coordinator, ext.128; or webmaster 

Education Funding for 2012-13

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On March 29, 2012 the Ministry of Education issued Ministry Memorandum 2012:B5. This memorandum provides highlights of the 2012-13 Grants for Student Needs (GSN). The GSN for 2011-12 is estimated at $21 billion which is the same amount as 2011-12. Highlights are as follows:

FUNDING INCREASES:

  • August 31st PDTA enhancements are in GSN including elementary prep time increase ($53M), grades 4 to 8 class size reduction ($24M), grades 7&8 student success teachers ($20M) and secondary teachers ($20M)
  • OMERS contribution rate increase ($29M)
  • Capital - $350 million for new schools, $150 million for renewal and $40 million for portables
  • FDK on track for full implementation by 2014-15
  • FDK first time equipping and minor renovations funded ($24M)
  • Continued phase-in of 2006 census data for LOG & ESL
  • Special education funding stable at $2.5B
  • New teacher induction funding stable
  • Increase in funding for non-staffing school operations cost pressures ($27M)

FUNDING DECREASES:

  • Ministry has started reducing funding for retirement gratuities and will phase-in the elimination of this funding over 12 years in conjunction with PDTA proposal
  • Funding for curriculum & teaching specialists reduced by 300 positions (-$34.6M)
  • Instructional computers funding reduction now permanent (-$25M)
  • PD funding reduction now permanent (-$21M)
  • Program Enhancement Grant discontinued (-$45M) - $20M redirected to outdoor education programs through EPO
  • Student transportation routing efficiency reduction of 1% will continue (-$6.6M)
  • Reduction in funding for Board Administration (-$6.8M)
  • Distant schools allocation discontinued, essentially replaced by the Supported Schools allocation that was introduced in 07-08.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE:

  • All the PDTA parameters are included in the GSN, including Q&E freeze, staff compensation increase 0% and new sick leave plan
  • Government will require school boards to comply with Public Sector Accounting Board rules on employee future liabilities over the next four years
  • Amalgamations (-$16.7M annually by 14-15)
  • Adjusting funding to provide further incentive to close excess capacity in underutilized urban schools starting in 13-14 (-$72.5M annually by 14-15)
  • Update of school operations & renewal funding benchmarks (-$12.2M)
  • Credit cap of 34 in GSN (starting in 13-14), additional credits funded at adult education rate of grant (-$22M annually by 14-15)

2012-13 Funding in addition to Grants for Student Needs

On March 29, 2012 the Ministry of Education issued Ministry Memorandum 2012:B6. This memorandum provides details of the funding to school boards for 2012-13 that is outside of the GSN. The Education Programs Other funding for 2012-13 totals $160.9 million.

To view the full B Memorandum available on the Ministry of Education - Transfer Payments and Financial Reporting website:
Ministry of Education B and SB Memoranda

For more information: Wayne McNally, Director, Finance, x104 or webmaster

Moving Forward with Student Transportation Competitive Procurement

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On March 29, 2012 the Ministry of Education issued Ministry Memorandum 2012:B8 providing information regarding the Transportation Task Force Report on Competitive Procurement.

On January 25, 2012, the Transportation Task Force, chaired by the Honourable Coulter Osborne, submitted its report to the Minister. The current memorandum provides additional information for school boards to assist them in proceeding with full adoption of competitive procurement policies and practices for student transportation services.

To view the full B Memorandum available on the Ministry of Education - Transfer Payments and Financial Reporting website:
Ministry of Education B and SB Memoranda

The Transportation Task Force Report is available on the Ministry website.

For more information: Wayne McNally, Director, Finance, x104 or webmaster

Request for Updated Capital Priorities

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On March 29, 2012 the Ministry of Education issued Ministry Memorandum 2012:B7 to request that school boards update their capital priorities information. School boards are requested to submit their requests for Capital Priority Funding through the School Facilities Inventory System (SFIS). The Ministry has announced that up to $350 million will be available for board Capital Priorities expected to open by 2015-16. Boards are required to submit this information by May 31, 2012.

To view the full B Memorandum available on the Ministry of Education - Transfer Payments and Financial Reporting website:
Ministry of Education B and SB Memoranda

For more information: Wayne McNally, Director, Finance, x104 or webmaster

2012 Federal Budget

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Following is an excerpt from the budget brief that will be of particular interest to school boards,

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLES TO FULLY PARTICIPATE IN THE ECONOMY

The Government recognizes the contribution that Aboriginal peoples can make to the labour force as the youngest and fastest-growing segment of the nation's population. Equipping First Nations people with the skills and opportunities they need to fully participate in the economy is a priority both for this Government and for First Nations people.

Economic Action Plan 2012 will:

  • Invest in First Nations education on reserve, including early literacy programming and other supports and services to First Nations schools and students.
  • Build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nations youth with better learning environments.
  • Commit to introduce a First Nation Education Act and work with willing partners to establish the structures and standards needed to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve.
  • Improve the incentives of the on-reserve Income Assistance Program while encouraging those who can work to access training that will improve their prospects for employment.
  • Renew the Urban Aboriginal Strategy to improve economic opportunities for Aboriginal peoples living in urban centres.

The full budget brief is available on the Government of Canada website at http://www.budget.gc.ca/2012/home-accueil-eng.html

For more information: Wayne McNally, Director, Finance, x104 or webmaster 

Call for Nominations for Elected OPSBA Positions

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The OPSBA 2012 elections will be held as part of the Annual General Meeting which takes place from June 7 to 10, 2012 at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay. The Northern Region is hosting and is looking forward to welcoming you to OPSBA's 24th Annual General Meeting and Program.

** All nominations received by May 10, 2012 will be published in the OPSBA Election Handbook **

Executive Positions
Positions to be decided through the election process at the Annual General Meeting and at the accompanying regional meetings:

  • President;
  • First Vice-President;
  • Second Vice-President;
  • Vice-President/Chair and Vice-Chair of each of the five OPSBA regions: Central East, Central West, Eastern, Western and Northern.

Please note the following important guidelines if you intend to run for President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President and Regional Vice-Presidents

  • The deadline for nominations for these positions on Executive Council is 30 days prior to the AGM where the elections will be held. This means that nominations for President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President and Regional Vice-President must be received at the OPSBA office by end of day Thursday, May 10, 2012.
  • If any candidate is interested in standing for more than one of the positions noted above, the candidate must declare his or her interest in each respective position by the nomination deadline. This is very important, as there will be no opportunity for "dropping down" (i.e., being considered for another of these positions if a candidate is unsuccessful for the first) on the day that elections are held at the AGM.
  • Nominations are only accepted from the floor of the AGM in situations where no advance nomination has been received for the position of President, First Vice-President and Second Vice-President.
  • As well, nominations for Regional Vice-President for each of the five regions must be submitted by the May 10 deadline. Nominations will ONLY be accepted from the floor of each Regional Council election meeting where no nominations for that Region's Vice-President position have been received in advance.

Nominations for Regional Vice-Chairs and Members of Core Issue Work Groups

  • The nomination and election process for the position of Regional Vice-Chair (acts as alternate to the Regional Vice-President) or for representatives to the Work Teams (Education Program and Policy Development) permits nominations to also be taken from the floor of the Regional meeting. However, advance nominations that are received by May 10 will be included in the AGM Election Handbook which is distributed to voting delegates and will be posted on the OPSBA website along with bios.
  • There is a requirement that candidates for the position of Regional Vice-Chair must be a confirmed member of the incoming Board of Directors. Each Board's Voting Delegate will be asked to confirm their board's appointment to Board of Directors prior to the election of the Regional Vice-Chair.

Nominations, Nomination Forms and Biographies

  • Nominations can be made by any trustee from a member board in good standing once they have confirmed the nominee is willing to stand for the elected position.

The 2012 Election Nomination Form, as well as the OPSBA Guide to Roles and Responsibilities are available online (see link below).

  • Trustees running for election are asked to submit the nomination form and provide a brief biography in electronic format, to the OPSBA office no later than end of day May 10, 2012. It is suggested that a biography be up to one page in length and include the candidate's photograph. This information will be printed in AGM Election Guide, which is distributed to member boards so they can review the candidates running for various positions and provide guidance to their voting delegates.
  • Information on the candidates running for election will also be posted on the OPSBA website after the May 10 deadline.

Confirmation of Appointments to Board of Directors and Elections to Core Issue Work Groups
Also at the Regional meetings held during the Annual General Meeting and Conference, member boards confirm appointments (and alternates) to OPSBA's Board of Directors for the 2012-2013 term.

  • School authorities elect one representative to the Board of Directors at a specially convened meeting of district school area boards.
  • Prior to the AGM, confirmation is received in writing from the treatment centre school authorities regarding their representative and alternate for the upcoming year.
  • The First Nations Caucus meets at the AGM prior to the regional meetings in order to elect a representative on the Board of Directors.
  • During the Regional Meetings, each region holds elections to choose their members and alternate members to the Education Program and Policy Development Core Issues Work Groups for 2012-2013.

AGM Information Materials (2012 Election Nomination Form, OPSBA Guide to Roles and Responsibilities, Elections Quick Reference)

For more information: Florenda Tingle, Executive Coordinator, x108; or webmaster

OPSBA in the Media

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OPSBA Media Release, School Boards Challenged by Austere Provincial Budget, March 27


Schools with low enrollment likely to close
As reported by Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun, March 29

TORONTO - More than 16% of Ontario elementary and secondary schools are under used with almost 363,000 student spots unfilled, Ministry of Education figures show.

Education Minister Laurel Broten announced Thursday that the total Grants for Student Needs budget in 2012-13 will remain the same - $21 billion - although declining enrolment means actual per-pupil funding is going up to $11.189.

The provincial government's budget also maintains funding for full-day kindergarten and class size caps.

But the budget expects savings of $116 million over two years to be achieved largely through the end of special grants that help keep small schools open, including the School Facility Operations and Renewal Grant and the Declining Enrolment Adjustment.
"Doing the right thing doesn't make it easy," Broten said. "We have chosen a pathway forward that asks everyone in education to do their part to help lower spending while still increasing student achievement. Everyone in the public sector will have to do their part to get Ontario where it needs to be fiscally."

School boards have a one-year window to talk to their communities and make their decisions before the funding cuts take effect.

Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), said she expects that these funding reductions will hit urban boards harder.

"I'm sure it's going to be an issue for Toronto," she said.

School boards in rural and northern communities have already been dealing with school closures for some time, Fife said.

The special provincial funding now coming to an end helped ensure that students in schools with low enrolment received equitable programming.

Boards will have to consider whether keeping an under-used school open will have a negative impact on its students' education, or whether the space should be kept for the immensely popular full-day kindergarten program or future enrolment growth.

"Once you close a school in a neighbourhood, it's gone forever," Fife said.


Educational film industry worried about proposed copyright legislation
As reported by Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News, March 28

OTTAWA - Wheeling the wobbly TV stand into the darkened classroom for a bit of educational entertainment has long been part of the grade-school experience.
But ensuring Canadian content is part of that ritual might be extremely difficult because of a copyright bill making its way through Parliament, say some key distribution and licensing firms.

"I've always been a small-c conservative, and sometimes a capital-C Conservative, but I'm shocked that the Conservative government doesn't feel badly about taking private property," said John Fisher, president of Visual Education Centre.

Fisher says he's invested millions in acquiring the rights to Canadian educational films and producing others.

Behind almost every program that's shown to students is a complex licensing regime that allows schools to show programs to groups of students, as opposed to a consumer simply buying a DVD for home use.

The proposed change to the Copyright Act says a teacher won't be breaking any laws when he or she shows a group of students a program, as long as its not an "infringing copy."

Fisher says that will effectively kill off a core part of his business, and possibly imperil $25 million to $30 million a year in the non-theatrical film industry. He describes the market as small, but nevertheless crucial to the educational system because of the demand for Canadian, and not just American, content.

"If you're reduced to home-video prices, $9.99 a movie ... you're never going to be able to recover your investment," said Fisher.

Canadian TV producer Donna Leon has had success with her children's show World of Wonders, recently signing an agreement for broadcast in Australia.

While the changes to the Act might not hobble her company Genuine Pictures, she says they will affect her bottom line as licensing fees from the educational sector are increasingly part of her revenues.

"I really care about content, and it bothers me that everybody wants to take away our intellectual properties and just not pay us for them, because in educational television in particular, we don't make gobs of money off that," Leon said.

No amendments touching on the licensing issue were proposed by either the government or the opposition when they examined the legislation in a House of Commons committee this month.

Fisher says he was told MPs took up his cause at the Industry Department, but was told that trying to safeguard the licences of the films went beyond the technical changes to the bill the government would consider.

"We believe we've struck the right balance. We have consulted widely, and the bill we have now is balanced and responsible," said James Maunder, spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore.

Others in the industry say there's simply not a lot of clarity about how the Copyright Act will shake down. For example, does the word "copy" in the proposed Act also refer to a streamed or downloaded programs?

Film producer Kevin Milne, who creates educational films with aboriginal themes, says he believes the act is worded in a way that will still require a school to get permission to show a film.

For example, Milne says an "infringing copy" could be regarded as a product sold for home use but shown instead to a group of students.

"It's a very confusing Act," said Milne. "The issue is who's going to interpret it, and who's going to enforce it?"

Cynthia Andrew, a policy adviser to the Ontario Public School Boards Association, can see that there will be an impact on those who sell licences - the middlemen - but doesn't see much of a hit to the producers.

"It's something the boards will be negotiating with the creators - (the material) is generally part of a huge package including curriculum," said Andrew.

"There's already other fees embedded in the cost."


In Peel schools, the policy is BYOD: ‘bring your own device'
As reported by Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star, March 28

It's called BYOD - bring your own device.

Peel Region's 153,000 public school students are being encouraged to bring their smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptop computers to class in what the board calls its "21st century" learning plan.

"The days when kids go into the computer lab for an hour and that's their technology for the day - those days are over," said Brian Woodland, director of communications for the Peel District School Board.

"There's a need to move from an investment in a computer lab to technology that's more portable," he said, as well as programs that give kids access to their work after school hours.

Trustees voted this week to spend $7 million, in part to add wireless technology and increase its bandwidth in schools. In the past, such funds would have been used to build traditional computer labs, said Woodland.

Such plans raise questions about equity, especially for lower-income students who don't own such devices or have access to them outside of school - a growing issue that has been dubbed the "app gap."

But the Peel board plans to purchase tablets or the like, to "ensure equity of access to technology for all students through classroom computers and tablets in schools."
Peel is among the first to pass such an ambitious plan, said Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association.

"You can't fight it," she said of technology being used in the classroom. "That's why this decision is pivotal; other school boards will be watching.

"Fighting how this generation learns is not a good use of time of teachers or administrators. Instead of chasing after them, you just embed it into the learning experience of students."

The Toronto and York public boards allow electronic devices in classrooms at the teacher's discretion. The expectation in Peel is that all teachers will be making use of technology and the board will provide training for them.

Professor Jeff Kugler said boards have to be careful that they're not putting any students at a disadvantage.

"If technology is seen as the vehicle for learning, it needs to be accessible to everybody," said Kugler, of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. That means there has to be enough tablets or laptops to serve every child that needs one.

As for the technology only adding to classroom distractions, Woodland said students are already bringing their devices into school.

"We are directing them in the use of such devices, and appropriate use is part of that ...
"They are going to live and work in a world where people hold their devices. They need to learn to use them well and respectfully, (that) is an important part of what we help them learn in school."

Woodland also said the board will be looking for companies to offer parents low-cost rentals or rent-to-own plans, should they wish to have such devices at home, too.

"You could argue that's not the business of a school board," he said, "but it's how best to help our students."


 

Canadian provinces move to protect students from sports-related brain injuries
Radio Canada International, March 27

At a time when medical research is documenting the debilitating, sometimes fatal consequences of sports-related concussions and brain injuries, Canadian lawmakers have begun to address the issue. Legislation is being considered in both British Columbia and Ontario that would make it a school's responsibility to ensure that youngsters with a suspected concussion are removed from the game and not allowed to return to play without a doctor's note. Marc Montgomery discusses the question with Catherine Fife, the president Ontario Public School Boards' Association.

To hear the interview

For more information: Jeff Sprang, Director, Communications & Media Relations, x111; or webmaster

Ontario NEWSROOM

Learning Disabilities Association of Halton — First Annual Solutions for Learning Conference, April 13

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Operating Engineers Banquet Hall and Conference Centre
2245 Speers Road, Oakville, ON  L6L 6X8

Map and Directions | Register

The conference is an in-depth look at research and the brain, and how this relates to good reading instruction. Join us for a day of learning and networking with colleagues and new friends. Breakfast & lunch are provided.

Speakers

  • Guinevere Eden is the Director of the Center for the Study of Learning (CSL) at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. One of her goals is furthering the scientific understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of learning disabilities with particular emphasis on dyslexia.
  • Maureen Lovett is Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health, Director, Learning Disabilities Research Program and Professor of Paediatrics, University of Toronto. Her research is focused on treatment and intervention for struggling learners, particularly in the area of literacy learning and her team has had very good results in pursuing research-based interventions with some very impaired struggling readers.

Register

  • Early Registration is open now!
    $150 non-members ~ $125 LDAO members
  • Registration after March 31st, 2012: $175 all
    (Continental Breakfast and Lunch provided)

Accommodations

  • If traveling from outside the GTA and would like hotel accommodations to attend the conference, we suggest the Holiday Inn@Bronte 2425 Wyecroft Rd in Oakville (1-905-847-1000) or The Quality Suites, 754 Bronte Rd, Oakville (1-905-847-6667).

For more information: Solutions For Learning Conference 2012 Flyer

From OPSBA Members

CSBA Congress 2012, July 4—7

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Hosted by the Québec English School Boards Association (QESBA)

Don't miss this opportunity to hear keynote speaker The Right Honourable Paul Martin participate in a plenary dialogue with legendary folk singer and Aboriginal leader, Buffy Ste-Marie. Other speaker highlights include a media panel featuring the Globe and Mail's Kate Hammer and CTV News Montreal Executive Producer Barry Wilson; a panel of four Canadian politicans, entrepreneurs, entertainers and educators, all under 30 years, who speak about their experiences; and some veteran Canadian political and community leaders will offer their ideas about reaching constituents. Congress  2012 concludes on Saturday, July 7 with a national student panel hosted by CBC's Mark Kelley.

See the CSBA Congress 2012 website for more information about the wide selection of workshops. 

Program

To register 

From Education PARTNERS

Career BOARD

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Career Board (from OPSBA members & education partners)

OASBO Job Postings — update as of Mar 29 (from OASBO members)

Upcoming Events

APRIL 2012

WESTERN REGIONAL MEETING
Hosted by Avon Maitland DSB
April 13—14
Goderich

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Friday, April 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
OPSBA Board Room, Toronto

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Friday, April 27, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. &
Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Metropolitan Hotel, 108 Chestnut Street, Toronto
Phone: 416-977-5000; or 1-800-668-6600
OPSBA Rate: $145
Cut-off date: March 31

NORTHERN REGION DIRECTORS
Friday, April 27, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
OPSBA Board Room, Toronto

MAY 2012

EDUCATION PROGRAM / POLICY DEVELOPMENT WORK TEAMS
(Some Joint Agenda Items)
Friday, May 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
OPSBA, Toronto

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Friday, May 25, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
OPSBA Board Room, Toronto

JUNE 2012

2012 Annual General Meeting and Program
June 7—9, 2012
Vahalla Inn,1 Valhalla Road , Thunder Bay
Phone: 807-577-1121  or 1-800-964-1121
OPSBA rate: $124 plus taxes (standard room); Upgrades are available.
Cut-off date: Monday, May 7, 2012

OCTOBER 2012

2012 NORTHERN REGIONAL MEETING & PROGRAM
October 19—20, 2012
Delta Conference Centre, 208 St Mary's River Drive, Sault Ste Marie
Phone: 705-949-0611 or  1-888-713-8482
OPSBA rate: $119.00 plus taxes (single and double room)
Cut-off date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012