These are my goals, as stated in my original election platform, Oct/Nov 2007:
|Reduce class sizes.|
|Drive down incidents of bullying and violence in our schools.|
|Decentralize what can best be delivered locally.|
|Utilize technology to its greatest advantage in education and administration, and introduce effective safety for internet usage.|
|Eliminate waste, streamline processes and deliver faster, better results for students, parents, teachers and administrators.|
What am I doing about them?
On bullying and violence in our schools:
July 2009 – A resolution was finally passed regarding our guiding principles for behavioural expectations within our school board. This is the first step in what I hope will be a “raising of the bar” in our schools and centers. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot expect to have our students, parents, teachers and administrators all put a little more effort into helping raise this bar, and then all reaping the rewards from it. Respect is nothing new. But it is something that has to be expected, taught, reinforced and required. From all of us.
February 2009 – A resolution will again be presented, with clear action items that I hope will make a difference in the shortest term.
October 2008 – “Focus Sessions” are coming, where we hope to get input from all stakeholders as to what we expect in our schools and centers in terms of respect and responsibility. From that we will have a statement – and from that, we can allocate resources and expect a real “buy-in” from all concerned.
June 25th, 2008 – We finally passed a resolution calling for a reaffirmation of the Council’s commitment to respect in our schools and centres. It may seem like a small point, but, it is the first step in what I believe will be a foundational shift in the behavioral expectations we have within our school board.
April 23rd, 2008 – We passed a resolution calling for town hall meetings this coming fall, involving all stakeholders in the development of our overall safety, security and behavioral expectations.
March 17 th, 2008 – The upcoming focus session in April will see this subject as one of 3 major subjects. The Ad Hoc committee on behavioral expectations met a couple of weeks ago too – progress is being made; too slowly, perhaps, but it has to be done right too.
February 12th, 2008– The topic comes up in School Organization and Transportation – errant youths on a bus in Laval. A complete lack of respect combined with pure ignorance as to the consequences of their actions.
February 4th, 2008 – Educational services committee. A very à propos quotation from Jules Verne on behavior plans, and what is needed to make them work.
January 24th, 2008 – A focus session with one of the primary goals being bullying and violence in our schools is being set for this April. The Council as a whole is very supportive, but we do have to be careful that we don’t get too bogged down in procedure. It’s an interesting balancing act between losing something in procedure and making sure you do something right.
January 8th, 2008 – Call for statement was very well received by commissioners in email and then at ESC last night.
January 2nd, 2008 – Presented call for a formal statement at the next council meeting; asked for input from all commissioners.
November 28th, 2007 – The presentation at the first council meeting of the new council on bullying & violence in our schools was poignant and extremely well presented. There was mention of many current programs in place. A call for a sub-committee on the subject has been deferred to the Educational Services committee. I still believe we need to start with a statement from our council and will continue to pursue.
November 21st, 2007 – Met with the Chairman re call for a statement. Very positive reception, with news that a video from a conference attended last spring on bullying will be presented at the next council meeting. I expect we will be able to make actual progress here.
November 20th, 2007 – Forwarded call for a strong and public statement of our school board’s expectations as regards respect and responsibility for behavior in and around our schools to the newly reelected Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council.
November 12th, 2007 – Initiated call for a strong and public statement of our school board’s expectations as regards respect and responsibility for behavior in and around our schools.
June 2009 – The one-netbook-one-student initiative pilot project that I have been pushing is meeting resistance – but not from parents, Governing Boards or administrators! It’s a big project, and it needs to be done right if we want it to be successful. It’s good to take prudent steps; I would like it to move a little more quickly.
May 2009 – There’s always a lot going on in this department. I hope to get a more clear overview of the department as a whole in the coming months.
February 2009 – It was great to see the “islands of excellence” that we saw in our joint IT/ESD meeting. We were blocked in that meetng at the question of “where do we want to be, and how do you see us getting there”. I have been pursuing this beyong the committee meeting and hope to have concrete action items very soon.
October 2008 – I am now “Vice-Chair” of the technology committee. We also have a new, somewhat less cluttered format for our meetings, with a greater focus on the big picture and less focus on the day-to-day. The first meeting was productive and I am hoping to see real progress this year.
June 2008 – Communications. The role of computers in our classrooms. The direction we are going in. Much work remains to be done. I hope to have a stronger voice in the coming year.
March 18th , 2008 – It seems the major criteria, perhaps coming down from MELS, is simply “ratios” of computers to students. We need to look at this – the ratio matters far less than what is actually accomplished with these computers. And does a ratio of 1:6 really mean that 1 out of 6 days is spent with a computer, or thereabouts? No, it does not – the reality seems to be far less – not an issue for the IT committee though – this would be educational services.
February 4th, 2008 – A practical exercise. School visit seeing technology in action.
January 15th, 2008 – I had hoped to chair the committee, albeit a somewhat arrogant position to take given that I am less than 90 days into this new role. I believe I have the experience and knowledge to do so, but, the gentleman who was voted in seems to as well – and he has years of experience on council. So maybe next time. 🙂
November 28th, 2007 – I am on the technology committee and look forward to its first meeting.
On decentralization and streamlining processes:
May 2009 – One of the biggest parts of decentralization is letting those decentralized entities make the choices that they believe are right, even when you may question them yourself. This month we had just that issue. In our recovery plan, as with every department, we needed to reduce administrative support staff in our schools. We left the decision as to who and what with every school – and they came back with their decisions. On a personal level, I was quite disappointed that many of the cuts were in “Office Technician Class 2” – which in most cases means some of our library staff. But, we asked the Administrators to make a decision and really, we had to support that decision. Grandstanding to the Council audience was not an option for me. Even though this was not what I really wanted.
February 2009 – The recovery plan is pushing a lot of this forward, but each step seems to take so long. I continue to put pressure to move things forward, and to keep things on the various agendas.
September 2008 – A new format for standing committee meetings should help drive the focus forward.
June 2008 – In one caucus meeting, another commissioner was calling for our budgets to really have no “wiggle room”. He’s right – we can improve, and I think we are taking the right steps.
March 17th , 2008 – A couple of new tenders have come and gone – points awarded on a variety of criteria, and really well done. Maybe it’s just some smaller ones that could be of concern.
February 11th, 2008 – I am somewhat distressed by what appears to be a problem with the tendering process on smaller contracts driven by the Executive. More to come.
January 25th, 2008 – A lot of this is in the Minister of Education’s focus now. A large part of this QESBA conference was devoted to “The future of school boards” – and decentralization along with streamlining of processes has to be a major part of that definition.
December 10th , 2007 – With suggestions on email distribution lists, reduced mailing costs and more, we may have somewhere to go with this yet! 🙂
November 28th, 2007 – I am on the communications committee and the school org committee. The first meeting of the communications committee is December 10th.
On reducing class sizes:
July 2009 – I wish we could do more with this one. We need smaller class sizes. What we are doing is just not good enough. But we are completely stymied by what the MELS gives us. We need more support for smaller class sizes from the Government. It goes directly to the drop out rate and it really needs to change.
October 2008 – GREAT NEWS AT MCCAIG! 8 new classrooms and a new gym! It’s hard to believe that it’s finaly coming… it’s been years of work, but it has paid off!
July 2008 – Our board continues to grow. We need new schools, and we need new ways to get them. The world is changing – we really need to innovate and lead here.
March 18th, 2008 – Let’s build some new schools. Let’s rethink this whole process. Do *we* really need to own and manage buildings? (Yes, let’s toss aside what MELS dictates for a second, and imagine how it could be.) Is that our forté? Let’s look at what a PPP (Public/Private/Partnership) could offer. Let’s get the best teachers and pay them more. Let’s give them a bonus for good performance. Let’s get something going now. Let’s not look for the reason’s “why not” – let’s talk about the reasons behind “YES!”.
February 13th, 2008 – School Organization meeting – I think that the focus of the school board must be on achieving growth from offering excellence in education. It seems that the MELS is expected to respond to our growing needs only when we have schools that are operating well beyond their functional capacity. The Government needs to respond to the projected need, without sacrificing the current needs of our existing clientele.
January 25th, 2008 – We have an interesting problem – one of the only, if not *the* only board that is managing growth. With such a vast area to service including both some of the most urban schools and some of the most rural schools, there remain serious challenges on all sides.
January 9th, 2008 – Interesting question on who we’re advertising to attract, and where are we trying to attract them. Is our school board too focused on “growth”? Shouldn’t the focus first be on providing quality education to our population? Something to watch.
November 12th, 2007 – This is another big one, touching on many aspects. I will be diligently looking for every way we can approach the issue, looking outside-the-box for a solution that we are all happy with.