Trustees prepare budget deliberations . . .

John McAllister, Board Chair
John McAllister, Board Chair

Thursday, May 16th - The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) is involved in its annual budget planning process, focusing on developing a new budget to support the priorities of the school district for the 2019-2020 school year. 

        To date, the Board of Trustees has received informational reports and updates from staff that included a general review of education funding and expenses, a brief overview of the Government of Ontario 2019-2020 Budget highlights, and highlights of the Ministry of Education (MOE) Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding for 2019-2020. Although the Board is awaiting technical documents from the MOE, preliminary calculations done by UCDSB financial staff based on information received to date show the UCDSB is facing a budget gap of approximately $11.7 million for the 2019-2020 school year. 

        The Board understands the necessity of achieving a balanced budget for the 2019-2020 operational year and, as part of that mandate, have asked staff to provide: 

        • a range of areas of possible reduction for consideration; and 

        • recommendations for budget priorities including both additions and reductions. 

Based on current expenses and 2019-2020 funding, the following areas exceed revenue allocated for such purposes: 

        • Special Education 

        • Supply teachers 

        • School office staffing 

        • Rural Guidance Counsellor Project 

As requested by the Board, staff have highlighted possible areas of reductions for review and deliberation by Trustees, such as: 

        • potential reduction of Early Childhood Educator positions in classrooms to align with new funding allocation; 

        • potential reduction of secondary programming Student Success Teacher positions to align with new funding allocation; 

        • potential reduction of school office support staff (regular day school operations) positions to align with funding allocation; 

        • re-allocation of funds from the Rural & Northern Education Program 2-year pilot that supported additional resources for a Rural Guidance Counsellors program;

        • potential reduction of positions to central office administrative staff and TR Leger/continuing education staff; 

        • potential reductions from program department through attrition, layoffs, and reorganization of current program commitments; 

        • potential reduction in System Principal and System Teacher assignments where funding for the positions is not provided by specific ministry grants; and 

        • gradual reductions in Special Education expenditures to improve alignment with the actual Special Education funding allocation, while maintaining essential commitments to students / student programs. 

        “It’s clear that we will have a lot to consider in the coming weeks. The Board of Trustees will work with staff and the recommendations provided to us to pass a budget that meets Ministry of Education requirements and the needs of our students and staff,” said Chair of the Board John McAllister. 

Notes from the Science Fair travellers . . .

Thursday, May 16th

Adventure is out there!

        Today was a long day! Up at 6 am, breakfast at 6:30 am, then a two hour and forty minute motor coach ride to our first stop, Cape Enrage. Almost everyone onboard the bus took advantage of the long bus ride to take a nap, and there was Wifi to pass the time as well. We had apples and chocolate chip cookies on the bus as well as water. They also gave each of us a plastic poncho in case it rained, however the rain only started when we were driving back later in the afternoon.

        The view at Cape Enrage of the Bay of Fundy and the Nova Scotia coastline in the distance was spectacular and the shoreline was incredible. We explored many of the eroded nooks and crannies while the tide was out. We hiked back up to the bluff and some of the finalists tried one of the rope balancing stations in the climbing area. I took several pictures and then we were off to our lunch stop, a horse ranch. I was expecting a box lunch, but when we arrived, we were served a hearty sit down meal of spaghetti and a delicious Caesar salad and garlic bread. There was plenty of juices, tea, and coffee as well as huge pieces of chocolate brownies.

        After lunch we headed out to Hopewell Rocks, where we again explored the beautiful seabed at low tide as well as the flowerpot shaped rock formations that towered above us. The tides and coastal currents here are the largest in the world, with the tides rising and falling every six hours or so to an incredible height of 36 to 38 feet! The views were spectacular, and I got some great pictures. As the old saying goes, you have to crack some eggs if you want to make an omelette, well it's also true that if you want to walk on the seabed at low tide you're going to get muddy - enough said about that!  Anisha, Eshal, Lily, and Ève will tell you all about it. What a wonderful group they are.

        We arrived back at campus at 6 pm and headed straight to the cafeteria for a BBQ supper of chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, and salads. The students also loved the cookies and ice cream and many made ice cream sandwiches with them. 

After supper, one finalist just wanted to shower and chill in her room while I escorted the other three down to the swimming pool. They swam while I renewed old acquaintances in the viewing stands overlooking the pool with two delegates from Winnipeg who were at the pool with their finalists. Everyone was back in their rooms by 9:30 pm for some quiet time.

        Tomorrow breakfast is at 7 am and the public viewing and STEM expo begins at 9 am. We are expecting 8,000 to 10,000 visitors over the course of the next three days. Tomorrow morning I get to explore the projects on display in the Exhibit Hall as well as the STEM Expo on the floor below the hall. In the afternoon, our team will go to their University seminars that they pre-selected during the online registration process last month. I - along with all the other delegates - will attend the annual Special General Meeting of Youth Science Canada. We will review the financial statements, elect new directors to the Board, present long service awards, and hear a review of the past year's activities and future directions of the organization and the fair. After the public viewing closes tomorrow evening its off to the Student Union Building for some entertainment in the form of a talent show put on by many of the finalists. I remember this well from the last Canada Wide fair here in Fredericton back in 2015. It was a great evening event.

        The finalists cannot believe that the week is already half over. They are having such a great time and are making many friends and fond memories that I am sure will last a lifetime.

Mike O'Neil, Team UCSF 2019 delegate

        Today was the second day of public viewing with another several thousand school children and visitors touring the Exhibit Hall and STEM Expo hall. The finalists had another chance to view the STEM Expo exhibits and to interact with the visitors to their projects. The Exhibit Hall was closed at 2:30 pm to allow the finalists to return to their rooms and change their clothes for the formal Awards Ceremony, gala dinner and dance.

        United Counties did not win any medals but I assure you that I am returning home with four winners in every sense of the word. I am proud of their becoming a finalist at the national level of competition and their behaviour and teamwork while here this week have been exemplary and they have acted as great ambassadors for our region.

        The Awards Ceremony was live streamed on Facebook and there were several hundred parents, friends, and family members here in the audience.The tables (and there were about 90 of them each seating 8 or 9 people) were lavishly appointed with a beautiful tulip centre piece with candles, fresh linen, place settings, and souvenir programmes for everyone present. 

        Once the awards were completed, we took a one hour break to take photos and to allow the caterers to prepare the food tables. There were vegetarian, vegan, halal, and allergy specific options available. There was also roasted chicken, prime rib au-jus, roasted and steamed vegetables, a Caesar salad, fresh rolls and butter, fresh fruit, and more. For dessert, there were several options, including chocolate and white cake, cheesecake, strawberry cobbler, chocolate desserts, and various flavours of mousse in champagne goblets.

        After dinner, we returned to our respective residences for those that wanted to change into comfy clothes before the dance in the Student Union Building where the finalist and delegate lounges are located. Most of the delegates and finalists stayed in their formal clothes, including our team.    

        The dance was great, and there were also quiet rooms available equipped with refreshments, games, and lounging areas for some peace and quiet. Snacks were set out, including two make your own sundae stations. Anisha, Eshal, Lily, and Ève danced, talked with their new found friends, and took a photo postcard keepsake that included our unofficial fifth finalist from Thailand. Each one of the five students received a postcard keepsake and then Lily ran over to me and said they had one made for me as well. Very thoughtful of them and I will truly cherish it.

        We left the dance at 11 pm, along with the die hards that stayed right until the end. Back at residence, I told them that they could sleep in until a time of their choosing and they could go down to breakfast whenever they wanted, as long as they were ready to go by 8:30 am, because we were scheduled to take a Team Ontario photo outside of the Student Union Building at 8:45 am, just before heading down to the exhibit hall.

        The week is quickly drawing to a close and the goodbyes will begin in earnest tomorrow. It will be a bittersweet time indeed. This is the sixth time I've been through this and I will truly miss each and every one of their smiles and laughs.

Mike O'Neil - Team UCSF 2019 delegate

UCDSB students win medal - 2019 skills . . .

Carter Giff, Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute
Carter Giff, Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute

 Monday, May 13th - Two UCDSB students won bronze last week at the Skills Ontario Competition, held in Toronto. Carter Giff, of Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute, placed third in outdoor power equipment, and Nick Oeggerli, of Char-Lan District High School, earned his medal in individual carpentry. Both men compete Tuesday, May 7 at the skilled trades event, held at the Toronto Congress Centre.

        “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t think I was going to do that well,” said Giff of the competition. “It’s a really great opportunity. It gives you a challenge. When you try hard and win third, it really boosts your confidence.”

        The challenge in Giff’s event was to work on an outboard boat motor. Competitors had to take it apart, measure the size of the piston, measure the cylinder wall in six different places, and figure out the taper on the cylinder. They later had to reassemble the motor and ensure everything functioned.

        Giff believes a review of how to properly use a micrometer helped with his results, noting the event involved precise measurements. Giff plans to become a heavy mechanic. He will soon start an apprenticeship through Algonquin College at Ogilvie’s Auto and Fleet Service in Jasper.

        This was the third time Oeggerli had made it to the provincials, but the first time he had medaled. He competed twice previously in the four-man carpentry event.

        “It feels really good and I’m happy it worked out,” said Oeggerli. The Grade 11 student attributed his success to staying focused on the task at hand, which was to build a detailed dog house. “I studied the plans, stayed focused and tried not to look around me at what others were doing and just think about how I would do it,” he said. Oeggerli hopes to attend Alqonquin College after graduation for carpentry and to become a framer. 

Students learn Indigenous Culture . . .

Archie Martin explains Métis hunting practices to students during the four-day Truth and Reconciliation Gathering.
Archie Martin explains Métis hunting practices to students during the four-day Truth and Reconciliation Gathering.

Monday, May 13th - The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) hosted a district-wide Indigenous gathering from May 6 to May 9 for students in Grades 5 and 6. The fourth annual event gave students the opportunity to learn about the traditions and culture of Inuit, Métis, Ojibway, Mohawk and Algonquin peoples, as well as the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada. Over the course of the four days, 16 schools participated with close to 900 students.

        On the first day at each location, a feast was held in the evening for the hosting communities and dignitaries. Each day saw 150 to 250 students move through five different presenter sessions.

        Dion (Stranger) Metcalfe taught students Inuit games and culture; Tammy and Bernard Nelson talked to students about Anishinaabe culture and provided truths about residential schools, as Bernard is a residential school survivor; David Jock and Frances Derouchie shared the making and using of traditional medicines and instruments of the Mohawk people; Archie and Pierrette Martin taught students about Métis history; and Danka Brewer engaged students in drumming, teaching them songs from the Algonquin First Nation.

        As well at each gathering and feast the Lanark drummers shared traditional songs.

        “This event is one of a kind in school boards. We are so fortunate that we have these relationships established with Knowledge Keepers and Elders in the community, and are able to organize this vast event each year,” said Gail Brant-Terry, Principal of Indigenous Education. “This event supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s action items, and I’m so proud that we are able to engage our students with these authentic teachings.”

        Students engaged in learning about Indigenous culture and history during the school year, which was supported by visits from Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to their classroom and professional learning for educators. Last week’s events put that learning front and centre, allowing students to make real-life connections. 

Glengarry intermediate teacher Lindsey Howes awarded Excellence in Teaching . . .

Lindsey Howes accepting the Excellence in Teaching - Elementary Award at the OCTE annual awards banquet on Friday evening.
Lindsey Howes accepting the Excellence in Teaching - Elementary Award at the OCTE annual awards banquet on Friday evening.

Monday, May 13th – Lindsey Howes, an intermediate teacher at Glengarry District High School, was presented with the Excellence in Teaching - Elementary Award from the Ontario Council for Technology Education (OCTE) on Friday, May 10 at the council’s annual awards banquet.

        Howes was nominated for the award by a colleague and was recognized for her innovation, collaboration and promotion of science and technology education both in and outside of her classroom. Along with the recognition, Howes received a $500 bursary to be used for personal professional development and teaching resources.

        Last year, Howes and her colleagues collaborated with Tagwi Secondary School and introduced the Skills Ontario challenge. In this challenge, teams of students from both schools designed and built model wind turbines. This year, they expanded the project to include two more Skills Ontario challenges and encouraged six UCDSB schools to participate in the Intermediate Skills Ontario Regional Qualifier. 

        Along with her collaboration with other schools, Howes has been working on developing more cross-curricular projects within her science class. She collaborates with the technology, construction and math programs to ensure her students make real-life connections in their assignments. Her class is currently planning to add raised gardens to the Community Living building in Alexandria. “The connections that my students are making to and between curriculum expectations without even realizing it is worth all the extra planning and organizing,” Howes explained. “They are passionate about learning these skills because they are making the connection to why these skills are important outside of school. I hope that this will help keep some of our at-risk youth in school until graduation and encourage them to find a job they are passionate about.”

        “On behalf of the entire UCDSB community, we want to thank Lindsey for the exemplary work she is doing. It’s so important that our students connect the dots between what they are learning and how it is applied in real life,” said Director of Education Stephen Sliwa. “We are so proud that she is has been recognized for her efforts at the provincial level.” Howes has been teaching with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) since 2009 and currently teaches grades 7, 8 and 11 at Glengarry DHS. She has taught at many other UCDSB schools including Char-Lan District High School, Williamstown 

Public School, Rothwell Osnabruck Public School, Tagwi Secondary School, Roxmore Public School, and Pleasant Corners Public School, mostly working with grades 7 and 8.