Submitted by Erica Braunovan, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee –
On April 2 at the OCDSB Committee of the Whole meeting we held a discussion regarding an Operational Review of Learning Support Services, the department in charge of special education. This discussion was an opportunity for Trustees to give input into the scope of the review; the Special Education Advisory Committee was able to offer feedback into the review at their March meeting. A request for proposals will go out shortly and we are hopeful to have an update on the timeline late in this school year or early in the fall once an external consultant has been selected.
We also held a discussion regarding Employee Well-being and Absenteeism on April 2. We understand how important this issue is to the quality of education that we are able to deliver and our Human Resource department is working with our federations to help better understand this complex issue and find ways to support our staff, so that they in turn can support our students.
We had hoped to see the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) in mid-April, however, at the time of writing this column we have not heard from the Ministry of Education what our budget will be for next year. This is causing a delay in our budgeting process. We will no longer have a budget meeting on May 13, and will not see the finance departments initial draft budget until May 29. I am co-hosting a joint community budget meeting with Trustee Ellis at Hillcrest High School on May 14. We will not have the draft budget at that time, but we believe we will have received information on our budget from the ministry. These community meetings are an excellent opportunity to have a dialogue with your local trustee and Mike Carson, Chief Financial Officer for the board, in a less formal setting than is available at meetings in the board office.
At the April 16 Committee of the Whole meeting Trustees considered a recommendation from the OCDSB’s Advisory Committee on Equity to apply an equity lens to our understanding of mental health supports to students in the district. After a rich discussion, Trustees voted in favour of recommending the motion to the Board for action at the board meeting on April 23; I anticipate that the motion will be amended from its current iteration after Trustees have had time to further reflect on its impact to improve equity in providing mental health support to all students. As always, I welcome community input on all motions in front of trustees and ask that you email your thoughts to me at Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are hopeful that a draft of our next Strategic Plan will be available for feedback in early to mid-May. Please keep an eye on my public Facebook page for this.