Budget presentations slated for July 7th . . .

Draft Proposed Budget, 2020-2021

        Manager of Finance, Ashley Hutchinson, presented the draft proposed budget for 2020-2021 to the Board of Trustees. The draft budget includes an operating expenditure budget for compliance of $194.3 million, with operating and capital grant revenue estimated at $189.9 and other revenues estimated at $4.4 million, for a total revenue for compliance of $194.3 million. Salaries and benefits are expected to cost the board $147.1 million with other operating expenditures at $35.4 million. The Board has estimated a balance and compliant budget for 2020-2021.

“To begin our evening with some very positive news, we are projecting an enrolment increase of 121 FTE or 1 per cent for the 2020-2021 school year, mainly in the secondary panel,” began Hutchinson.

        “At this time our projections are showing that our elementary enrolment is status quo when compared to 2019-2020. In a normal year, we would expect to see the JK/SK numbers rise as we approach startup, but there is a lot of uncertainty at this time with the COVID19 situation and how that will impact our JK/SK registrations.”

        Average class size funding remained consistent in the elementary panel, however, in the secondary panel, there was a reduction in the average class size from 28:1 to 23:1, which is reflected in various grant revenue provided in the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs).

        “Currently, enrolment growth, as well as the change in funding at the secondary level for class sizes has contributed to changes to teaching staff positions. The proposed budget for 2020-21 includes an increase of 33 FTE,” noted Hutchinson.

        Overall, the draft operating budget for 2020-2021 reports a balanced budget with a small surplus of $7,000.

        Management continues to review the 2020-2021 budget leading up to final budget approval. All expenditure areas will be carefully reviewed for efficiencies and to ensure excellence in Catholic program delivery for students across Eastern Ontario. The budget will be brought back to the Board on July 7, for final review and approval.

Draft Annual Report - Provision of Special Education Programs

and Services 2020-2021

        Superintendent of School Effectiveness, Norma McDonald, presented to Trustees a draft copy of the Annual Report on the Provisions of Special Education Programs and Services, to be submitted to the Ministry of Education.

        The Special Education Plan for 2020-2021, as outlined in the Standards for School Boards’ Special Education Plans, has been compiled through consultation with stakeholders and key participants, including the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). The report includes recommendations to be implemented, including staffing allocations for schools, professional development plans for communication, and parent involvement.

        The staffing recommendations in the draft report include a total of 127.51 special education teachers, 174.46 educational assistants, and 31.5 student support worker positions within the Board. This includes the addition of 7.5 special education teachers and 2.5 student support workers, to be added to current staffing numbers.

        “These additional positions will be distributed to schools throughout our school board based on student population, number of identified or high needs students, and severity of specific student need,” noted McDonald.

        “Along with staffing provided by Ministry of Education funding, we recommend the addition of 7.5 special education teachers and 7.0 educational assistants for the 2020-2021 school year provided through Support for Students Fund (formerly known as System Investment) from OECTA and CUPE.”

        Feedback from schools for the 2019-2020 school year has indicated a need for support with Special Education technology, and therefore it was also recommended that the Board staff a Special Education Technology Consultant to assist all schools with the many specialized computer programs and devices available to support identified learners.

        Trustee Wilson, Chair of the SEAC Committee, thanked Superintendent McDonald, Principal of Special Education Heather Gerber, and the Special Education Team for the significant work which has been done over the last few months on finalizing the Annual Report.

        The Board approved the staffing recommendations. The recommendations will be included in the Report to the Ministry of Education on the Provisions of Special Education Programs and Services.

UCDSB Student Survey . . .

Insightful feedback for Fall planning . . .

Monday, June 29th - The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) surveyed Grade 7-12 students to get feedback on their experiences with distance learning and how the current model could be improved in the future.

        Results showed that students appreciate the flexibility of distance learning, allowing them to work at their own pace (72%), with the majority of students indicating that the workload is appropriate (59%). Students also indicated that they would like bi-weekly assignments, rather than weekly, and more consistency in platforms used for distance learning. Much of these findings echo what we heard from parents and guardians in the survey conducted with that group in mid-May.

        Grade 7-12 students were surveyed from June 1 – June 8 and garnered more than 3,100 responses from across our district.      

        “Student voice is valued within the UCDSB and understanding what is working well with distance learning from the student perspective, and how we can help transition students back to class, is essential as we prepare for the fall,” says Director of Education Stephen Sliwa.

Some other notable findings include the following:

· 47% of students rated distance learning as “okay”, “pretty good” or “love it”;

· 34% of students said they disliked distance learning;

· 19% of students said they struggled with distance learning;

· The biggest challenge reported by students (50.9%) was the ability to stay engaged while working at home;

· 36% said a review of spring 2020 lessons would help them transition back to school in the fall, as would a gradual increase in workload (22%); and

· 36% would like classes to be focused more on the lesson and less on the homework.

        The number of respondents were spread almost equally across all grades surveyed. Attitudinal data among all grades were also similar.

Upper Canada District School Board . . .

Director awarded three more years . . .

Friday, June 19th, Brockville, ON - Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board met on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 for their regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting. Trustees and senior staff joined the meeting by teleconference to ensure physical distancing, however the meeting was broadcasted live. Trustees discussed several items:


John McAllister, Chair of the Board
John McAllister, Chair of the Board

Director of Education Contract Extension . . .

In his opening remarks, John McAllister, Chair of the Board, announced that the Board and its Director of Education, Stephen Sliwa, have agreed to an extension of the Director's current employment contract for three more years, until November 2023. Chair McAllister congratulated Mr. Sliwa, commenting how "this is good news for us, knowing that we can rely on Director Sliwa's leadership and support to address our Board's priorities, support our staff, and to enable the successful operation of programs for all students". Mr. Sliwa was hired by the Board of Trustees in November 2015.



Spring 2020 Director's Award of Merit . . .

Stephen Sliwa, Director of Education, announced the recipients of the Spring 2020 Director's Award of Merit. This award recognizes UCDSB employees who bring the best of themselves to the workplace and contribute to a positive, productive and caring work environment.


The recipients are as follows:

Nancy Lalonde, Teacher at Rothwell Osnabruck Public School;

Melanie Spence, Educational Assistant at Rideau Vista Public School;

Rebecca MacLeod, Teacher at TR Leger (Alexandria Campus);

Luc Decoeur, Custodian at Williamstown Public School;

Kim Cook Office Assistant, TR Leger STEP Program; and

Sue Van Leeuwen, Teacher at South Grenville District High School.

Communications and Relationship Management Department Update

UCDSB staff updated Trustees on the progress of the Communications and Relationship Management (CRM) department in 2019-20 and their goals for 2020-21. This year, the CRM Department shifted the tracking of their work to directly align with the Board's Strategic Plan. The department saw increased engagement on all social media platforms and had a successful Kindergarten Registration Campaign in the Winter and Spring of this year. Feedback from the system and the public will help guide the CRM team's actions and initiatives in the 2020-21 school year.


Financial Forecast 2019-2020 . . .

UCDSB staff provided Trustees with the third financial forecast of the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The UCDSB is projected to be compliant for August 31, 2020 with a projected $6.6M surplus due to savings obtained during the school closure period. The Board is still awaiting the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) that will determine the 2020-21 budget. Budget deliberations will be held in July in order for the Board of Trustees to set their budget for the 2020 / 2021 operational year.


COVID-19 Operational Update . . .

UCDSB staff updated Trustees on operational practices and priorities for the school district, as a result of the current public health crisis. Working closely with local health units, UCDSB schools have a plan in place for accessing schools to collect belongings between June 16 and 23. While our school buildings remain closed at this time, school playgrounds and athletic fields have re-open to the public (with the exception of playground structures remain closed due to provincial restrictions). UCDSB staff are currently comprising a school reopening strategy document that will guide the school start-up process in September 2020.


Student Transportation Funding . . .

Trustees approved a motion brought forward by Chair John McAllister that sufficient resources be allocated to create a budget contingency to address potential additional student transportation costs due to unforeseen transportation requests received from families. They also approved a second related motion brought forward by Trustee David McDonald that the UCDSB request a report from the Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) identifying the amount of funds available at the end of each year from the past five years, based on the daily transportation of students.