Submitted by Erica Braunovan, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee –
March through June is budget season at the OCDSB, a large component of which is academic staffing. The OCDSB budget process is perennially awkward as we set academic staffing levels in advance of receiving information of our overall budget for the coming year. Our collective bargaining agreements require us to give notice of employment status to academic staff in early April, however we do not expect to hear the actual funding numbers until mid-April. This year, with anticipated changes to funding, there is notable concern around the trustee table. We heard from the Ministry of Education on March 15 that they would be changing the funding related to some class sizes.
The OCDSB collective bargaining agreements have language regarding class sizes that will continue to prescribe those class sizes at our schools. We are uncertain as to how much of the shortfall between the new provincial class size calculation, and the OCDSB class sizes as set out in our agreements will be covered by the Ministry of Education. At the time of writing this column, the report recommending academic staffing levels has not been seen by trustees. It was hoped that we would debate this item at our March 19th meeting, however, due to the timing of the announcement that debate was postponed to March 26th to allow for more analysis by the finance and senior staff teams.
On Tuesday March 5th at our Committee of the Whole meeting we passed a motion to communicate with the Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, and Minster of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, regarding the changes to the Ontario Autism Program. Our school district is committed to serving all of our students, and we have concerns regarding the implementation of these changes given that we do not have an accurate picture of what the implications will be, and how the changes will be adequately funded. Chair Scott has sent a letter to the Ministers and will be requesting a meeting with local MPP Lisa MacLeod, to share our concerns and explore solutions.
I am excited to announce that on March 19th the Committee of the Whole passed a $12,250,000 budget to renovate and add on to Elmdale Public School (this recommendation needs final approval at the board meeting on March 26th, and a signature from the Minister’s office). The Elmdale community has been waiting for this addition since the 2013 Near West Review. The student community will be relocated for the duration of the renovation, which will allow for a larger project than would be possible in an occupied school.
We are excited to announce that Eric Hardie will be joining us as a new superintendent of instruction on April 8. Eric is joining us from the Upper Canada District School Board.
And for anyone who is a planner (like me) next year’s school year calendar is available on our website at this time. Find it online at https://ocdsb.ca.