Board to ask province for list of priorities 0
Where are the government's priorities?
The Ministry of Education hasn't asked the Simcoe County District School Board to prioritize its capital projects since 2008, and the board wants to know what, if anything, to expect this year.
Trustees have directed the chair to write the ministry to find out when the board will be asked to prioritize its capital projects for 2010.
"We are trying to be open and transparent. Unfortunately, we're not getting the same courtesy back from the ministry," said Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Ramara, Severn and Tay townships.
Vice-chair Nancy Halbert said trustees are being asked what the board is doing about a growing list of board-approved, but unfunded projects, and they're not accepting "waiting on the ministry" as an answer.
One of the board's 2008 priorities -- the consolidation of Angus Morrison Elementary School in Angus and Frederick Campbell School in Borden --was approved by the ministry in 2009. However, that money was from the ministry's "energy efficient" funding, not capital priorities.
The board is taking another step in its information and communication technology strategic plan.
STUDENTS MAY BE ABLE TO SURF
Last summer, associate director Carol McAulay said, "basically, everything is blocked" in terms of students' web-surfing options on the board system.
At Wednesday's meeting, the board awarded a $104,000 contract to Source 44 Consulting Inc. "for the supply and delivery of a content-filtering solution."
"The existing Internet filtering system is obsolete and not capable of meeting current or future needs of the classroom," McAulay stated in a report.
Three "solutions" will be developed -- one for students up to Grade 6, one for Grades 7-12 and another for teachers.
McAulay said the board is encouraging "citizenship rather than censorship."
"So, we expect people to use it appropriately," she said.
BOARD CONSIDERS STREAMING MEETINGS TO WEB
Discussions around the trustee table could soon captivate home audiences.
The board is considering streaming and caching its meetings on its website.
"The purpose of this motion is to use what we have to the best of our ability to inform the public" of board business, said Barrie trustee Diane Firman.
"One of the problems we have is we don't have the public here," Collingwood and Clearview Township trustee Caroline Smith added. "It might even help us with our own good manners and posture."
Currently, board meetings are available by request on DVD.
The motion was referred to the facility standing committee's October meeting.
FIELD TRIPS NOT EQUAL, TRUSTEE SAYS
An area trustee wants the board to take a fresh look at its policy regarding field trips.
"I'm concerned that we're not having equal access and equal opportunities for students," said Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Ramara, Severn and Tay townships.
For example, some students get to attend the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, while others don't, she said.
She would like the policy committee to review how field trips are selected and address the issues of cost and accessibility. The policy hasn't been updated since 2005, she noted, adding she'd like to see an updated policy in place by the beginning of the 2010-11 school year.
That matter will be up for discussion at the June board meeting.
NOT ALL SCHOOLS GET PROM
Keeping with the theme of equal opportunity, Lloyd also wants staff to draft a policy regarding year-end celebrations, special events and graduations.
We're inconsistent in how we're handling these things from school to school," she said. "There is a lack of clarity on how these events are handled."
Some schools are able to host a prom, while some aren't, she said.
That issue will also be discussed at the June board meeting.
VALUED SUPERINTENDENT RETIRING
The board will bid adieu to an award-winning superintendent this summer.
Lindy Zaretsky, superintendent of instructional services and leadership, announced her retirement from the board, effective Aug. 30.
Trustees praised Zaretsky for her leadership, particularly in the area of special education.
When current board chair Brad Saunders joined the board, "all I heard was 'problems with SEAC (special education advisory committee).'"
"Over the time that you've been here, somehow, magically, those problems have disappeared," he told Zaretsky, who last year received the Heidi Prinz Award from Integration Action for Inclusion in Education and Community Ontario.
Orillia trustee Debra Edwards described Zaretsky as someone who went above and beyond in her role.
"There's a lot of talk about raising the bar on leadership. I think Dr. Zaretsky has done more than raise the bar on leadership," Edwards said.