Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, October 14, for a regularly scheduled board meeting. Trustees conducted the meeting in person at the Brockville Board Office, with the option for staff and trustees to call in, as per regular practice.
Changes to Secondary Evaluation Processes for 2020-20201:
The Director of Education provided an update to the Board about adjustments to the secondary school diploma program and graduation requirements.
The Ministry of Education recently provided school districts the ability to adjust secondary evaluation processes to reflect the realities that come with learning and attending school during the uncertainties of a pandemic. The Upper Canada District School Board has decided that for the 2020-2021 school year, there will be no final exams for secondary students (Grades 9-12) at the end of any quadmester. Instead, student grades will be solely based on the specific learning activities and assignments delivered in each course.
There have also been adjustments made to the 40-hour community involvement graduation requirement for the 2020-2021 school year. The Ministry of Education has reduced the required number of community involvement hours to 20 hours for this school year and has provided more flexibility in the types of activities that can count toward these hours.
However, students expecting to graduate in the 2020-2021 school year will need to complete the Grade 10 Literacy Test. This test was not administered last year due the provincial mandate to close schools in the spring and the transition to remote learning for staff and students. The test has been reinstated this school year and will be administered in the Spring of 2021.
Update on 2020 Summer Learning Program and Summer Semester:
UCDSB staff updated the board regarding the 2020 Summer Learning Program and Secondary Summer Semester.
The Elementary Summer Learning Program is intended to support students who would benefit from an engaging and interactive learning opportunity in the summer that builds upon and furthers their learning. Summer Semester allows secondary students and students in Grade 7 & 8 to reach ahead to earn credits via eLearning and Co-operative Education. In 2020, two new learning opportunities were added to Summer Semester: credit-recovery and credit upgrade.
This summer, 585 elementary school children enrolled in the Summer Learning Program. Overall, 98% of students and parents rated their engagement with the Summer Learning Program as very high. For the Summer Semester, 2,200 students enrolled in with 1752.5 credits earned.
Staff Provides Financial Budget updates for 2020-21 School Year:
UCDSB Staff provided a financial budget projection to the Board of Trustees. Reviewing the discretionary and non-discretionary funding options available to the school board, staff outlined low, medium and high possible budget line items when it comes to discretionary as well as non-discretionary budgeting including sick leave, lower enrolment and PPE costs that can’t be covered by the province.
The estimated deficits range from $4 to $17 million, even after utilizing COVID-related funding sources. As such, staff recommended adopting a conservative approach to discretionary expenditures while monitoring data to determine scale and impact of non-discretionary financial risks. Staff continue to review all mitigating factors and strategies to gain great visibility to the actual financial risks while also managing those risks to ensure the Board remains on a sound financial footing.
Trustee Lisa Swan put forward a motion “that the Upper Canada District School Board request the Province of Ontario support public education by increasing the funding to School Boards in the Province to support the delivery models they have mandated and increase Board funding to do such as we deal with this pandemic, and to show they support public education.” The Board carried the motion in a vote of 9-2.