Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Key items discussed in the public session are as follows.
Importance of Sleep and Bell Time Consultation – Status Update
The UCDSB is exploring an adjustment to elementary and secondary school bell times based on scientific research showing that good sleep hygiene can increase academic achievement, school attendance, and both the physical and mental health of students.
Details of the consultation process and key findings were presented by Principal of Carleton Place High School Casey Nelson to trustees at the Jan. 17 meeting. Nelson reported that two in‑person sessions were held with parents/guardians in November 2023 featuring an expert panel of professionals in child and youth health. These guests presented research demonstrating that 1 in 3 teenagers do not get enough sleep, which reduces academic achievement, school attendance, physical activity and mental health. The information sessions were streamed live, a recording was made available in the days following and a feedback form was distributed widely to parents and guardians.
Principal Nelson noted that of the 1,856 responses, 59% came from parents/guardians of Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 students, 15.5% from Grade 7‑8, and 25.5% from Grade 9‑12. Participants reported concerns surrounding family work arrangements (20%), extra‑curricular/sports (17.2%), before and after school care (16.7%), student employment (14.2%), transportation (13.3%), and daycare (10.2%).
Director of Education Ron Ferguson stated that further conversations have begun with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario and with Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario.
UCDSB Exploring Expanding Child Care Options at UCDSB Elementary Schools
Based on a motion from Ward 2 Trustee Carole Dufort and passed by trustees, UCDSB staff will explore the possibility of expanding before and after school programming in elementary schools, at the lowest cost possible to families.
2023‑2024 UCDSB Financial Forecast 2
The second Financial Forecast of the school year was presented by Executive Superintendent of Business Services Jeremy Hobbs. The most recent Financial Forecast projects revenues of $424.0M and expenses of $423.8M for compliance purposes, resulting in no change to the projected in‑year surplus of $0.2M for compliance purposes.
Detailing the minimal changes to the current forecast, Superintendent Hobbs said that projections may evolve as we approach year end. Staff absences, actual enrollment numbers versus projections, transportation expenses, heating costs, etc., may impact the forecast moving forward.
A third and final Financial Forecast is scheduled for April 2024.
PA Day Date Change
Bill Loshaw, UCDSB Superintendent of Schools, informed the Board of Trustees of an adjustment to the 2023‑24 School Year Calendar. With a solar eclipse set to occur on April 8, 2024, the scheduled April 26 Professional Activity (PA) Day will be moved to April 8 to ensure the safety and well‑being of UCDSB students.
Since the projected path would place UCDSB schools under the eclipse during dismissal and bus departure times, the move will help ensure students are not outside or enroute in diminished light conditions and will help reduce the risk of eye exposure to the sun.
This change aligns with adjustments made by other boards within our region, including the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario.