The end of November marked the close of the fourth and final year of this Board of Trustees’ term in office. Although this last year was not without its challenges, Trustees remain focused on aligning its work with that of the new strategic plan with the ultimate goal of providing engaging and innovative learning opportunities where everyone – students and staff – achieves success and well-being.
Trustees began the school year by celebrating the beginning of construction of Kingston Secondary School – the city’s first high school in 40 years – with a ceremonial ground-breaking attended by school and Board staff and community partners. Construction is well under way and we look forward to providing our students with the infrastructure to further their learning needs in whatever pathways they choose.
The Board enhanced its existing partnership with the City of Kingston on two fronts. First, we expanded our successful Transit Pass Program to include field trip passes for educators. This new pass allows teachers within the city to take classes to field trips and other extra-curricular activities at no additional cost. This program has been nationally recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for its innovative and sustainable approach to transportation. The Board also worked closely with the city to open the Rideau Heights Community Centre hub attached to Rideau Heights Public School. This amazing facility features a library, gymnasium, community kitchen, skate park and meeting rooms, all of which are available to students during the school day.
Trustees also approved a balanced budget of $279.4 million for operations for the 2018-2019 school year. Next year’s budget allocates funds to support the hiring of four new elementary guidance teachers to support Grade 7 and 8 students’ academic transition to secondary school and beyond; funding for a multi-disciplinary team of eight additional specialists to support special education needs and expanded mental health wellness and awareness; and $17 million in capital investments to maintain safe and energy efficient learning environments. The majority of the 2018-2019 budget is directed to instruction and special education.
Much of our work this past year focused on refining the Board’s new strategic plan and setting goals for each of our pillar priorities to put wellness first, turn innovation into action and remain committed to collaboration. Together with support from Senior Staff, we developed an Action Plan Evaluation Framework to allow us to monitor progress under each pillar goal and area of focus. This new framework uses a traffic light system – green for on target; yellow for making progress and red for needs further attention – to allow Trustees and the public to easily see the status of each initiative. It was exciting this fall to review the framework and see how much incredible work has been done to support student achievement and student and staff well-being. The Board looks forward to continuing to review the progress going forward as it works toward our shared vision over the next five years.
As this is my last report as both Chair and Trustee, I am pleased to share how proud I am of the work our Board has over the last term to empower and enable staff to help ensure that all of our students have equal opportunities to reach their maximum potential. In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Trustees, senior and frontline staff across the district, families and our community partners for their commitment to students and will to strengthen public education in a responsible and thoughtful way.