Chairperson’s Report to Council for September 2022

by Judy Kelley, Chairperson, LBPSB

Since September 8, 2022, all flags throughout the LBPSB have been at half-staff in solemn recognition of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. At dusk, this evening, the flags can be raised again, symbolizing the end of the period of mourning, as we have witnessed, in particular, in unprecedented numbers, in the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s queen for over 70 years, as well, will be remembered for her place in world history and her devotion to service. One message from Her Majesty in December 2002 that I find fitting for us in the work we do together is: Our modern world places such heavy demands on our time and attention that the need to remember our responsibilities to others is greater than ever.” I believe this message has not lost its impact in 2022 and should be considered as good advice for us in our dedication to education.

Since our last Council meeting, three weeks ago, within the LBPSB, there have been many positive and energizing experiences of being back to school, to seeing school friends and community, to seeing colleagues, to partaking in school activities and celebrations. The buzz in the air has been palpable. This is certainly a contrast to the trepidation felt by many of us the last two falls, 2020 and 2021.

We recognize, however, there have been some continuing frustrating disruptions for families regarding school transportation, as some transporters are still negotiating contracts, and as our carriers experience a shortage of school bus drivers. Although the media and the Ministry of Education might have given the impression school transportation was “good to go” throughout the province, this was not the case. As with education, in transportation, one size does not fit all. We ask for patience from our LBPSB community. The hours of work that have been committed to this dossier and this extraordinary situation is unprecedented. We also recognize that our daycare educators and families have literally had to go that extra “mile” to start and end their school days. Thank you.

The finance department at the LBPSB, always exceptional, has also been working extremely hard to finalize our 2022-2023 budget, which is on our agenda for adoption this evening. The Council of Commissioners, along with the Administration, have participated in two budget workshops in order to understand the budget’s details, and to ask questions about the overall operations and capital budgets. The transportation issues I have already spoken about will impact our budget, significantly, but we are hopeful the Ministry officials will address and help to solve this concern in the near future. On the other hand, within the budget there are new initiatives from the Ministry of Education – one is for teacher mentoring and the other allows us to open a third point of service for students in the REACH program, both positives!

On another positive note, our Director General, Dr. Cindy Finn, Commissioner for Ward 4, Allison Saunders, and I, were invited by the City of Pointe-Claire to attend the inauguration of the Judge Lindsay H. Place Sports Field on September 6th. This is an idea that our last LBPSB chair, Noel Burke and Assistant Director General, Tom Rhymes played a role in, along with City Councillor Kelly Thorstad-Cullen. It is also an initiative that shows how a school board and a municipality can work together for their community. The idea became a reality, along with the installation of 2 park benches, donated by the Lindsay Place Alumni Foundation, represented at the ceremony by Peter Nauth. Seeing students out on that field during the inauguration, running and engaging in their sport while having fun, was truly uplifting.

This past Saturday morning, Commissioners and Administration attended a professional development workshop (on Zoom) led by Pearl Eliadis, an outstanding leader in human rights law and public policy. This workshop, custom designed for the LBPSB, to help us in writing inclusive, equitable public policy, was challenging and inspiring and provided some critical common ground and knowledge for us (and lots of resources and readings) to continue to do this very important EDDI work at our school board.

There is much work for us to do in this school year; there will be many challenges, and there will be much to celebrate as we make our way through the weeks and months ahead of us. Thank you to everyone within this school board for your work, patience and kindness in making the LBPSB the best it can be.
Thank you.