Chairperson’s Report to Council for May 2022
by Judy Kelley, Chairperson, LBPSB
This evening the Council of Commissioners will be voting on a resolution pertaining to administrative staffing changes for the 2022-2023 school year, effective July 1, 2022. Every year, governing boards are consulted on the principal criteria for a leader for their school or centre. Each school and centre is unique, and each response received by the director general provides insight into the profile of principal or director as outlined by the governing board. In addition to this process, there are multiple variables that might determine an administrative staffing change which can create a domino effect as administrators are moved from one assignment to the next. There is no hard-and-fast rule, no 5-year maximum posting, no one reason a change may occur. You will see there are many changes coming to the LBPSB for 2022-2023, all which have been carefully considered prior to the recommendation to council.
Leadership roles in our schools and centres are extremely demanding and without a doubt, as with teachers and support staff, cumulatively, the last few years have created exceptional demands on principals and directors. The expectations we have of educators in these positions are very high, and the pressures of day-to-day tasks, endless. I commend our administrators for their guidance, strength, will and determination to fulfill their school and centres’ missions and to navigate the challenging and ever-changing landscape of our world today. As many will be taking on new positions, may we wish you great success in working with new staff and new students. We know the job is difficult, that retention and recruitment of these critical and important positions is not easy, and that the Ministry is stalling in taking final steps in the process of updating the salaries and working conditions of administrators. Respect is key, and our administrators deserve recognition for all they do. To add an anecdote, in an email to me and a few others, a parent recently shared a moving tribute to the principal of her children’s elementary school. She wrote that the principal made a future possible for her child. That the principal took control of a situation with an inclusive approach and that now her child’s future is bright. That the principal comes out to speak to parents daily at pick up and drop off, that this principal can be seen sitting on the floor with children who’ve had a rough day and goes out of their way to make sure students are having their best day. That the principal puts the children first and makes their experience a priority. She wrote that “my child will have a bright future because they (referring also to a greatly admired teacher) believed in her, they worked with our family, set boundaries, and filled her bucket as well as [that of] many, many other students’. Without being dramatic, I do deeply believe that they saved her life.”
I would also like to speak to Bill 96, now a law, An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Quebec. This is a law which updates and strengthens Bill 101, The French Language Charter. The Indigenous, Anglophone, Allophone and yes, some from the Francophone communities as well, have been strongly reacting to the Bill, now the law. The reactions have been delivered with fierce and passionate responses with plans for court challenges and on-going vocalization and protest to the unconstitutional and disrespectful nature of this law and its violation of fundamental rights and freedoms, now blanketed by the overriding power of Section 33, known as the notwithstanding clause. As an English School Board, we are the educators of the future generations of “historic anglophones” as anyone with English eligibility to attend English schools is now being categorized in this law. As a community, may I humbly suggest, that we continue to stand behind the commitment to the fine English education our students receive in this school board, and that we continue to support the initiatives of the LBPSB to graduate students who are fully bilingual and highly educated in academics, skills, global citizenship and as defenders of our Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights (Human Rights) and Freedoms.
To solemnly end my remarks tonight, I would like to speak to our on-going commitment to safe and caring schools by using a wide range of resources and tools to do so. What is heart-wrenching, though, is that we cannot protect our schools and centres from every danger lurking behind the screens of certain users of social media and from those who may choose to act in extreme and violent ways toward innocent victims. The 19 children of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and their 2 teachers who tried so hard to embrace those children and protect them, the victims less than a week ago of a mass shooting, went to school on May 24th celebrating their love of learning and the last few days of the school year. What happened on that morning is unimaginable. This horrific incident should never have taken place. Those children and their teachers should have been safe, but they weren’t, as was determined by one person who chose a different path for them. Please, please, may this never, ever happen again. But, it will, we know that. Why? We may never know. In yesterday’s, Sunday New York Times, I read a series of comments from parents talking to their kids about the tragedy. One wrote: “I explained to my children, 12 & 14, that they have to be vigilant and observant of kids who struggle, who bully or who get bullied. I explained that they must never be afraid to say something or tell someone, because it can mean the difference between life and death. I told them to treat everyone the same: with kindness. They listened and they were quiet.” When I read that I first thought, that mother is wise in her words of solace. But, on further reflection, I wondered why children should ever have to be on the lookout for such danger, for that person who may take away their lives while they are at school.
Our administrators have enormous weight on their shoulders, and one of those tasks is keeping their students and their staff safe. As we come to the end of this school year, may I suggest that you take the time to send a message to your school or centre administrator to thank them, to acknowledge their work and for providing an excellent place of learning for your school community. This act of kindness will not go unnoticed.