July report from the OCDSB trustee

Submitted by Erica Braunovan, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee –

June is upon us and we are in the final stretch of the school year. While it would be tempting to slow down for this last little while, it is inevitably one of the busiest times of the year for me as a Trustee. June brings with it a lot of activity in the board room and across the district.

On June 10th we passed the 2019-2020 budget consisting of $980.2 million in operating costs, the bulk of which is spent in Special Education and Instruction and $82.8 million in capital investments. We are in a better position than many of the boards around the province this year, but are bracing for difficulties in the years to come. The changes to our funding from the ministry due to new class sizes means that we received less money per student than we did in previous years, however, due to an increase in enrollment our overall budget did not go down. To be clear this means that we need to do more with the same amount of money. Although the funding for class size averages went up significantly in the secondary panel, we are not able to actually change the size of all classes. We have collective agreements that direct the size of many classes, and there are types of classes that can’t run at larger numbers due to space or safety issues. It is hard to imagine 28 students in a wood working or auto shop class. This means offering less of some classes, and putting more students in to some of the classes that can still function at larger numbers. We did receive some additional funding to bridge the gap this year, but that funding will not be in place indefinitely.

The last big piece of business we have to complete is the passing of our strategic plan. We began the debate at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, June 18th and will finalize it at the Board meeting on Monday, June 24th. A link to the plan can be found on our website at ocdsb.ca.  The new plan was designed with the understanding that student learning, well-being and equity are the core areas of our work and our job is to create a culture which fosters the conditions for students to thrive. The plan is built on three objectives – creating a culture of innovation, culture of caring and culture of social responsibility.

Graduation ceremonies will start happening around the district in the coming days. I will be honoured to attend 5 of the 6 happening in Zone 10, but as with past years I will need one of my colleagues to attend at least one as there is a timing conflict with two graduations in Zone 10 scheduled for the same date and time. Please know that I do everything I can to attend as many graduation ceremonies as possible.

The OCDSB crew will be marching with a big yellow bus at Pride again this August, and you are welcome to join us. Stay tuned to social media for details. Everyone is welcome here, and that includes marching with us at Pride.

I am not sure if I will write another column between now and September. Summer has traditionally been a slower time for me, however with labour negotiations starting and a somewhat unpredictable provincial government, I may find myself wanting to update people over the summer if there are significant happenings. If you don’t hear from me, it is probably a good sign of smooth sailing. I hope you all have an enjoyable, sunny summer break.

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