Please note – the deadline for securing a hotel room at the Sheraton Centre for the Public Education Symposium is Jan. 7, 2019.
The OPSBA Board of Directors held a meeting on Dec. 7 and 8, 2018, in Toronto. Elaine Johnston, Chair of OPSBA’s Indigenous Trustees’ Council (ITC) and OPSBA’s First Nations Director, gave an acknowledgement that the meeting was being held on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Métis Nation.
Ontario’s Minister of Education Lisa Thompson joined the Board of Directors on the evening of Dec. 7. The Minister delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A session.
Education policy and program issues that were discussed in public session at the meeting are summarized below.
Legislative and Government Relations
MPPs rose for Winter Recess on Dec. 6, 2018, and will return after Family Day on Feb. 19, 2019. Members received updates on several pieces of legislation including:
Bill 36, Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act
Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act
Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act
Bill 56, Keeping Students Safe on School Buses Act
Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act
Updates were provided on the followings issues related to education funding:
2019-20 Education Funding Consultation
OPSBA is preparing a document for submission to the Ministry of Education outlining current funding pressures being experienced by school boards. Board of Director members were consulted during the meeting. Consultation responses are due by mid-December.
Education Development Charges
On Oct. 15, 2018, the government announced its intention to undertake a review of the Education Development Charges (EDC) policy framework, as well as recent amendments to O. Reg. 20/98: Education Development Charges – General. The amendments include four key elements:
- Maintain EDC rates at the levels in existing by-laws as of Aug. 31, 2018
- Limit the ability of school boards to change areas in their by-laws that are subject to EDCs
- Restrict additional school boards from becoming eligible to pass a new EDC by-law
- Streamline some of the requirements to be included in the required background study.
Benefits Technical Advisory Committee
OPSBA staff have been informed that the work of this group has been discontinued.
Elaine Johnston, Chair of OPSBA’s Indigenous Trustees’ Council (ITC) and the First Nations Director on the OPSBA board, delivered an update on Indigenous Education. The ITC has not met since the last OPSBA Board of Directors meeting but will meet at the OPSBA Public Education Symposium in January 2019. The National Trustees’ Gathering on Indigenous Education will be happening in Toronto on July 3. A brief discussion regarding the creation of Indigenous Student Trustees occurred.
Communications and Media Relations
Updates on recent OPSBA communications issues were provided. There has been some media activity involving OPSBA since the September Board of Directors meeting, which can be found on the OPSBA website.
OPSBA released a media statement regarding seat belts on school buses on Oct. 15.
Communications support was also provided for issues and projects including:
- The 2018 Provincial Fall Economic Statement
- Completion of OPSBA’s 2018-2019 Key Work document
- The launch of Education Today’s Fall 2018 online issue on Nov. 6
- Planning for Prosperity – the Government’s September 2018 online public consultation
- The 2019 Public Education Symposium
- The Auditor General’s 2018 Annual Report
2018 Municipal and School Board Elections Overview
Initiatives and analysis that took place related to the 2018 Municipal and School Board Elections included:
- Collection of data regarding the 317 elected and acclaimed public school trustee positions
- On behalf of the four school board/trustee associations, the Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) partnered with the Ministry of Education to produce a series of bilingual election resources to support trustee candidates and communities, to promote the role of school board trustee and encourage voter interest and participation in the 2018 school board elections.
- Why I Run – Trustee Video
- Election resources media outreach and Twitter campaign
- 2018-2022 Term of Office – OPSBA’s Guide to Good Governance 2018-2022, school trustee exit interview survey
Program Policy Update
A summary of Ministry meetings, workgroups and program-related announcements was provided. Information shared included updates on the following:
The first meeting of the EQAO Advisory Committee was held on Nov. 15, 2018. A number of the recommended changes to the accommodation and assessment practices have previously been identified at varying times by OPSBA through consultation processes and also contained in the OPSBA EQAO and Large Scale Testing Discussion Paper. One notable suggestion by EQAO is to adjust the number of students included in assessment reports by subtracting from the denominator those students who are unable to engage with the curriculum for a variety of reasons. This “denominator” in the EQAO formula calculation represents the total number of students who have taken the assessment. School boards have been asking for this for some time.
Ontario Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health
The Coalition met on Sept. 25 and Nov. 20, 2018, to discuss government engagement strategies and the necessity to reintroduce the group to the new government. Many members reported on the transfer of mental health supports and services being transferred to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as of April 2019. It is anticipated that there will be significant changes and efficiencies as a result of this transfer.
The Summit on Children and Youth Mental Health has been confirmed for April 16 and 17, 2020 at the Beanfield Centre. A new format will provide more opportunities for networking and delving deeper into topics that are evidence-based.
OACAS Public Engagement, Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement Strategic Council
In our continuing partnership discussions with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aids Societies (OACAS), OPSBA has been asked to join the OACAS Public Engagement, Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement Strategic Council. The first meeting was held on Oct. 29, 2018. The child welfare sector is experiencing the same challenges with government engagement and a significant portion of the meeting explored strategies and ways of reframing priorities.
FSL Labour Market Partnership Project (FSL-LMPC)
OPSBA is leading a labour market partnership project, Meeting Labour Market Needs for French as a Second Language Instruction in Ontario, for English and Catholic public school boards. This is a three year initiative and the ultimate goal of this project is to uncover workable solutions to the current worsening imbalance between the growing demand province-wide for qualified French language teachers and support staff and the related supply pipeline.
French as a Second Language
The bilateral agreement discussions that determine the amount of federal Department of Canadian Heritage funding to support FSL programs in schools are still in process. After 10 years, there has been no increase in dollar levels and every effort is being made to increase these levels. These monies flow through the Grants for Student Needs to school boards.
Given the national concern regarding attracting and retaining language proficient FSL teachers, the Department of Canadian Heritage will be providing supplemental funding to support applications for initiatives and research to increase the supply pipeline. OPSBA and the FSL-LMPC are working with the Ministry of Education to leverage the labour market research to expand pilot and high leverage strategies regarding recruitment and retention.
Consultation: Education in Ontario
The consultation process for this review of curriculum, which has involved town hall call-ins, online and other forms of engagement, concludes on Dec. 15, 2018. OPSBA will be making a full submission.
Based on previous OPSBA positions and a consultation process with the Education Program and Policy Development Work Teams, OPSBA developed a consultation resource document.